Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Endeavour nears Space Station Docking Tonight

The space shuttle Endeavour tonight is manuvering toward a docking with the International Space Station and the start of seven busy and constructive days in the program's history.

Endeavour spent Tuesday firing her jets and preparing on board equipment to raise her orbital altitude and decrease her speed which will bring the two together in a sort of orbital ballet 220 miles above earth.

The orbital docking ring -- located in the forward section of Endeavour's payload bay -- was extended this morning in support of mating the two vehicles together.

At 7:44 pm EST tonight, the space station could see the orbiter as a bright star 220 miles above northeastern China.

At 11:05 pm, Endeavour will be stopped in a postition 600-feet below the stattion. At this point , the shuttle will begin a 360-degree backflip near the station which will allow two station crewmembers to photograph the belly of the shuttle.

Known as the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, Station commander Jeffery Williams and flight engineer Oleg Kotov will use 800-mm and 400-mm digital cameras to take over a two hundred images from inside the Russian Zvezda module. Pictures will be taken at the start of the flip and through the point when the orbiter spends ten minutes holding its belly facing the space station's cameras.

It will be these pictures in which ground engineers will use to inspect the underside of Endeavour to look for any signs of tile damage following their Monday morning launch.

Endeavour's commander George Zamka will then begin a slow approach to the station as the shuttle moves payload bay in direction of travel toward a docking.

Docking is planned for 12:06 am EST on Wednesday morning... just hours from now.

No comments:

copyright 1998 - 2010 Charles Atkeison, SpaceLaunchNews.com. All rights reserved.