Saturday, May 15, 2010

Atlantis Closes in on the Space Station

Atlantis' arm grappled to the Boom Sensor this morning (NASA)

The crew of the space shuttle Atlantis will spend today inspecting the outside of their spaceship for possible damage as they close in on the International Space Station.

Atlantis' commander Kenneth Ham and pilot Tony Antonelli, along with mission specialists Garrett Reisman and Piers Sellers used the orbiter boom sensor attached to the spacecraft's fifty-foot robotic arm today to take radar images and video of the wing leading edges and nose cap.

The boom sensor is also fifty-feet long. The shuttle's arm grappled it's end at 8AM EDT, and then used the extension to slowly scan the thermal tiles for any damage which may have occurred at launch.

Mission control have blocked off six hours of today's time line to perform the laser scans.

Earlier, at 7:33 am, the orbiter performed one of several burns to assist in catching up with the space station. The ship's right hand orbital maneuvering system engine performed a ten second burn with raised Atlantis' orbit by one mile to 145 x 124 high orbit.

The burn also changed the shuttle's velocity by 8 feet per second as the orbiter closes in on for docking tomorrow morning at 10:27 am. Another OMS burn is planned for 5:35 pm today.

Meanwhile, on the middeck, Antonelli, Steve Bowen and Michael Good prepared their spacesuits for two the three planned spacewalks planned on this flight.

The three spacewalks are planned for Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Mission control is also tracking a piece of space debris today which could fly close in the path of the station and shuttle on Sunday. A possible avoidance maneuver may be performed by Atlantis' if the debris get's to close for comfort.

NASA's Johnson Space Center near Houston informed this reported that a plan

The six member crew were awoken earlier at 4:20 am EDT, to “You’re My Home” performed by Billy Joel. The song was played for commander Ham.

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