Crew Inspecting Heat Shield, Preparing for Landing

December 20, 2006
Crew Inspecting Heat Shield, Preparing for Landing
STS-116 Mission Specialist Joan Higginbotham retrieves items from a drawer on the middeck of the Space Shuttle Discovery during flight day six activities. Image Credit: NASA TV

The STS-116 crew is conducting a final inspection of Space Shuttle Discovery’s heat shield today and preparing for landing.

STS-116 Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Bill Oefelein and Mission Specialist Nicholas Patrick are using the shuttle’s robotic arm and boom extension sensor system to check the heat shield for any space junk or micrometeoroid hits that may have occurred while the orbiter was docked to the International Space Station. The routine inspections are conducted after undocking in preparation for landing, which is scheduled for 3:56 p.m. EST Friday at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida.

Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam, Christer Fuglesang, Joan Higginbotham and Thomas Reiter are stowing items in preparation for the return to Earth.

Tonight, two small scientific satellites will be deployed from the payload bay. The Microelectromechanical System-Based PICOSAT Inspector (MEPSI) mini-satellite will be released from Discovery's cargo bay at 7:16 p.m. MEPSI will demonstrate the use of tiny, low-power satellites to observe larger spacecraft by testing the function of small camera systems and gyroscopes.

The Radar Fence Transponder (RAFT) satellite will be released at 8:56 p.m. RAFT is a student experiment from the United States Naval Academy that uses picosatellites to test the Space Surveillance Radar Fence.

Discovery undocked from the station Tuesday, ending an eight-day stay at the orbital outpost. While there, the crew continued the on-orbit construction of the station with the addition of the P5 spacer truss segment during the first of four spacewalks. The next two spacewalks were devoted to the rewiring of the station’s power system, leaving it in a permanent setup. A fourth spacewalk was added to allow the crew to retract solar arrays that had folded improperly.

Discovery also delivered a new crew member and more than two tons of equipment and supplies to the station. Almost two tons of items no longer needed on the station will return to Earth with STS-116.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Astronaut Andreas to try sub-millimetre precision task on Earth from orbit

Related Stories

NASA is laser-focused on deep space communication

August 24, 2015

Today's technology has all but eliminated time delays in telecommunication on Earth, but when they do occur they can be frustrating, especially when trying to communicate complex or time sensitive information. The same type ...

Image: The aurora australis over Concordia station

August 19, 2015

It is cold, dark, dry and isolated with very little oxygen to breathe in the air, but the unique location makes Concordia station in Antarctica an attractive place for scientists to conduct research. The aurora australis ...

Recommended for you

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Ceres image: The lonely mountain

August 25, 2015

NASA's Dawn spacecraft spotted this tall, conical mountain on Ceres from a distance of 915 miles (1,470 kilometers).

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.