More Inspections of Atlantis Before its Return to Earth
Image above: The STS-115 crew answers questions from the media. Photo Credit: NASA TV With an added day in space, Atlantis’ crew will survey the vehicle once more before its return to Earth Thursday. More inspections of the vehicle’s heat shield began after Wednesday’s landing attempts were waved off due to an unfavorable weather forecast.
An object was observed by flight controllers using a TV camera on the shuttle in close proximity to the spacecraft. It was observed following standard tests of Atlantis’ reaction control system about 2:45 a.m. Tuesday. Flight controllers continue to inspect the orbiter to determine whether the item may be something that came off of Atlantis.
09/19/2006 Post-MMT Briefing Video of Object
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Before its bedtime, the crew positioned the shuttle’s robot arm above the payload bay to begin the added checks. Mission Control has used its cameras to survey the top side of the shuttle while the crew sleeps. Atlantis’ crew – Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Chris Ferguson and mission specialists Joe Tanner, Dan Burbank, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Steve MacLean – will use the shuttle’s robotic arm on Wednesday to inspect the underside of the vehicle.
Space Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale said the Orbiter Boom Sensor System, a 50 ft. arm extension, will only be used for added inspection if needed. The extra arm will be used if prior surveys detect suspect areas or if earlier images are not sufficient.
Landing opportunities for Atlantis on Thursday begin with a potential 6:22 a.m. touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Atlantis’ mission has resumed the construction of the International Space Station. Atlantis delivered the P3/P4 integrated truss to the station on Sept. 11. The STS-115 and Expedition 13 crews used the shuttle and station robotic arms to attach the truss to the orbital outpost. Then STS-115 astronauts conducted three spacewalks in four days to prepare the truss and its solar arrays for operation.
The weather forecast at Kennedy Space Center calls for better weather at the Shuttle Landing Facility on Thursday. Forecasters will continue to monitor the situation. The weather forecast for Wednesday had called for unacceptable thunderstorms and strong winds at the potential landing time.
For the latest information on space station activities, please visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Objeto volador no identificado (OVNI) observado cerca de la nave espacial Atlantis.