Orbiter Docks At ISS, First Spacewalk Friday
Space Shuttle Discovery and the
STS-120 crew arrived at the International Space Station at 0840 EDT
Thursday, delivering a new module and crew member to the orbital
outpost. After the hatches between the station and shuttle opened
at 1039, the two crews exchanged greetings and went to work
preparing for almost nine days of joint operations.
STS-120 and Expedition 16 crew members transferred to the
station spacesuits and tools that will be used during
STS-120’s spacewalks. The first of five excursions planned
for the mission will begin at 0628 Friday.
As the crews exchanged greetings in low-Earth orbit, on the
ground engineers examined images taken during Discovery's ascent
into orbit... and determined a chunk of ice struck the orbiter's
underside, near the liquid hydrogen umbilical door.
Florida Today reports the four-inch-long curved sheet of ice
built up on the shuttle's problematic external fuel tank, along a
liquid hydrogen feed line. As ANN reported, NASA watched
the ice develop in the hours prior to the Tuesday launch, and
determined it did not pose a risk to the shuttle.
NASA still believes the ice caused no significant damage... but
the final verdict awaits detailed analysis of the images taken of
the orbiter from the ISS, during Discovery's "cartwheel" manuever
prior to docking at the station.
Based on earlier images, the agency did determine no focused
inspection of the shuttle's heat shield will be necessary. The
focused inspection is routinely scheduled on the fifth day of the
mission for any additional necessary inspection of the thermal
"At this point nothing is worth a targeted inspection but there
are still a lot of data to analyze," shuttle flight director Rick
Labrode told Agence-France Presse.
For now, the focus is on Mission Specialists Scott Parazynski
and Doug Wheelock... who will perform the first spacewalk. To
prepare for the spacewalk, the duo is conducting an overnight
"campout" in the station’s airlock where the pressure has
been lowered to the pressure normally found on Earth 10,000 feet
above sea level. The airlock stay at a lower pressure protects
against decompression sickness as Parazynski and Wheelock go to the
even lower pressure of spacesuits Friday.
Other post-docking activities on Thursday included a crew-member
exchange. STS-120 Mission Specialist Dan Tani replaced Expedition
16 Flight Engineer Clay Anderson, who will return to Earth with
STS-120. The crew transfer became official when Tani’s
custom-made seatliner was installed into the Russian Soyuz
spacecraft docked to the station.