News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news

Shuttle astronauts give ship final inspection for re-entry

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — With Hurricane Dean considered hardly any threat to Mission Control, Endeavourís astronauts left the International Space Station a day early and inspected their ship one final time Sunday to make sure itís safe for re-entry.

NASA is shooting for a Tuesday landing, a day ahead of schedule, to avoid any disruptions to flight operations in case the formidable storm takes aim at Houston. As of Sunday afternoon, that looked extremely unlikely, but mission managers did not want to chance it.

ďThere is still uncertainty with a storm like this, but right now itís looking pretty good from our standpoint,Ē said John Shannon, chairman of the mission management team. ďThe threat is certainly somewhat less than it was the last two days.Ē

In preparation for Endeavourís fiery descent through theatmosphere, the astronauts surveyed the wings and nose, using a laser-tipped boom that hunted for possible micrometeorite damage.They did not maneuver the 100-foot robotic arm and extension boom under the shuttleís gouged belly Sunday; engineers have already ascertained that the small but deep gouge, caused by launch debris, poses no danger.

The astronauts had scanned the wings and nose the day after Endeavourís Aug. 8 liftoff, looking for any evidence of fuel-tank foam strikes or other launch damage. On Sunday, they were searching for any holes or cracks that might have occurred while the shuttle was docked to the space station.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Save $84.50 a year off our newsstand price:
Subscribe today for only 38 cents a day!

Leave feedback
on this or

Email This Page