Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Space shuttle Discovery lifts off.

The Discovery astronauts used much of their workday checking out the shuttle’s thermal protection system and preparing for the scheduled early Wednesday docking with the International Space Station.

Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson spent more than three hours before their lunch break getting their spacesuits ready for transfer to the station. They are scheduled to do three 6.5-hour spacewalks during Discovery’s stay at the orbiting laboratory.

Fellow crew members, Commander Alan G. Poindexter, Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. and Mission Specialists Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, rotated on the three-member team doing the heat shield checkout. They used the shuttle’s robotic arm and its Orbiter Boom Sensor System extension to look at the Reinforced Carbon-Carbon on the spacecraft’s nose and wing leading edges, and some of its heat-resistant tiles.

Because of a problem with Discovery’s Ku-Band antenna system, used for high-data-rate communications and radar, they recorded their survey on tape. The data will be transmitted to experts on the ground using the station’s Ku-Band system. Pilot astronauts are trained in rendezvous and docking without radar.