HOUSTON – Atlantis astronauts inspected the orbiter’s thermal protection system with its robotic arm and attached 50-foot boom Saturday. They also prepared rendezvous tools for arrival at the International Space Station.
Docking with the orbiting laboratory is scheduled for a little after 10 a.m. CDT Sunday.
Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialist Sandra Magnus spent much of their day gathering visual and electronic data on the reinforced carbon carbon of the wings’ leading edges and the nose cap. Experts on the ground will review the data to ensure they have not been damaged.
No obvious issues were reported. If analysis reveals any indication of damage the crew could be asked to conduct a focused inspection of any suspect area.
While the inspection was under way, the fourth crew member, Mission Specialist Rex Walheim, spent much of his afternoon on Atlantis’ middeck. He worked to prepare items carried into orbit there for transfer to the space station.
In addition to the middeck cargo, Atlantis is bringing to the station the Raffaello multi-purpose logistics module, packed with supplies and equipment for the station. Raffaello is to be unberthed from the cargo bay and installed on the station’s Harmony node early Monday. After unloading, it will be packed with station discards and other items, and put back in the cargo bay for return to Earth.
After the heat shield survey and the work with the middeck cargo, all four crew members worked to prepare for rendezvous and docking with the station. Hurley and Walheim checked out rendezvous tools while Ferguson and Magnus installed the centerline camera and extended the orbiter docking system ring.