Sunday, June 10, 2007

Atlantis on schedule, with one concern

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is looking good in terms of making its scheduled rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). The two craft will dock this afternoon (Sunday) to exchange a crew member and deliver and install a new power module with two solar panel "wings" on the station. Three spacewalks are planned as part of the week-long construction task.
There is some concern over a 10-cm "flap" where the corner of one of the heat-shielding fabric blankets near the Shuttle's tail has come loose. At least two shuttles have safely re-entered with similar damage, but NASA is evaluating the problem. If mission managers decide a repair is needed, the astronauts have procedures and tools to either tack down the fabric or put a cover of heat-shielding material over the spot.

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