July 29, 2009
Shuttle Crew Heading Home
Late Heat Shield Inspections For Shuttle
Shuttle astronauts will inspect Endeavour's heat shield one more time today as they begin to set their sights on a Friday landing.
The seven-member crew was awakened to the song "Yellow" by the band Coldplay, uplinked for Pilot Doug Hurley in honor of his International Space Station fly-around.
Commander Mark Polansky, Mission Specialist Julie Payette and Hurley will use Canadarm to grapple the Orbiter Boom Sensor System and pull it out of its moorings in the cargo bay at 4:18 a.m. They'll use the boom's sensors to inspect the starboard wing leading edge, the nose cap and finally the port wing leading edge.
Endeavour's thermal protection system was cleared for landing earlier in the flight. This late inspection will ensure that there has been no impact damage from micrometeoroids or space junk during its docked operations or fly-around of the station.
Spacewalkers Dave Wolf, Chris Cassidy and Tom Marshburn will pack up their gear and stow it in the shuttle's airlock for the return to Earth, and assist with early stowage of items no longer needed for shuttle operations after Tuesday's undocking.
The six-person Expedition 20 crew, led by Commander Gennady Padalka, will make final preparations for docking of Progress 34. The cargo craft is scheduled to link up at the station's aft Zvezda docking port at 6:16 a.m.
Flight Engineers Mike Barratt, Bob Thirsk and Frank De Winne will continue research into the changes microgravity brings to their bodies' disease-fighting systems with the Integrated Immune study. Kopra has finished his first session with the Bodies in Space Environment experiment, a Canadian comparison of how the human mind perceives its position during spaceflight and on Earth.
The two crews will begin their sleep periods about 5 p.m.
Image Caption: The shadow of space shuttle Endeavour can be seen on the International Space Station's solar arrays shortly after undocking. Photo credit: NASA TV
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