Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Crew prepares Endeavour for Wednesday's space station arrival

The crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour today surveyed the ship's thermal skin for damage following launch, and prepared for their arrival tomorrow at earth's orbiting outpost in space.

Endeavour is due to arrive at her port-of-call early Wednesday morning, and following the crew's wake-up to the music of U2's "Beautiful Day", they went right to work on their second day in space.

Using the orbiter boom sensor connected to the shuttle's 50-foot robotic arm, the crew used the OBS to laser scan nearly all of the top half of the ship as well as the underside leading edges and nose (above image) for any nicked or missing tiles caused during their launch on Monday morning.

The crew moved the end of the OBS system over the back end of the spacecraft then over to the starboard side before scanning the nose and wrapping up with the poet side.

The ship's survey is a mandate each shuttle crew has performed since the program's return to flight following the loss of shuttle Columbia in 2003, due to an impact to her wing edge caused by a large piece of foam insulation from her external tank.

Later in morning, astronauts Mike Fincke and Drew Feustel began work to check out their spacesuits and the tools which will be used during the four planned spacewalks during their 12 days docked to the space station.

Endeavour's crew includes commander Mark Kelly, pilot Gregory H. Johnson and mission specialists Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Feustel and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency.

Endeavour is scheduled to fly in slow and dock for her 11th and final time to the space station at 6:15 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.

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