Thursday, July 16, 2009

Endeavour Crew Begins Second Day on Orbit

Flying high above earth following a beautiful launch from the Kennedy Space Center, the space shuttle Endeavour and her crew of seven will spend a busy day preparing for tomorrow's docking with the international space station.

The crew, led by commander Mark Polansky, were awoken at 8:03 am EDT this morning to the tune "These are Days" by 10,000 Maniacs to begin their second day on orbit.

This morning, the crew will power up the ship's 50-foot robotic arm and use it to grapple an extension boom which rests on the right side of the payload bay. The crew will use the boom extension to survey Endeavour's heat protective tiles and thermal blankets for any nicks or damage caused by debris impacts.

Several areas where NASA saw small impacts occur during Wednesday's launch - which turned areas of black tiles white - will be addressed. However, the impacts may not be able to be studied until Endeavour's approach to the space station at about 1PM tomorrow. During the approach, commander Polansky will bring the orbiter to within 1000 feet of the station and perform a back flip so that the station's crew can photograph the orbiter's belly.

Last night prior to going to sleep, Polansky emailed the ground his thoughts on finally getting off the ground and into orbit: "This was so worth the wait. What a spectacular launch. Earth is breathtaking. Time for bed now".

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