Feeds

Shuttle docks with ISS after 'almost flawless' launch

Torn thermal blanket not a problem

Application security programs and practises

The Space Shuttle Atlantis has docked with the International Space Station (ISS) after an "almost flawless" launch last week.

With the launch and delicate docking procedures out of the way, NASA has turned its attention to life aboard the ISS, and setting up for the first space walk.

Atlantis, shortly after docking with the ISS. Credit: NASA TV

Atlantis, shortly after docking with the ISS.

The shuttle carried with it a new truss section for the ISS, and a new crew member, Clayton Anderson, to replace Sunita Williams who has just completed a six month tour aboard the station. Anderson has now replaced Williams in the ISS's crew rotation schedule.

Williams attracted plenty of attention during her stay on the ISS: she completed the Boston Marathon strapped to a treadmill, and set a new women's world record (22 hours, 27 minutes) for the most time spacewalking.

The first spacewalk is scheduled for today (Monday). The main truss segment will be attached by the shuttle's robotic arm before astronauts John "Danny" Olivas and Jim Reilly go outside to sort out the details. The pair have spent the night in the airlock in preparation for the walk.

Two further spacewalks are planned for Wednesday and Friday. A further walk may have to be added to fix a gap in the shuttle's thermal blanket.

At a news conference shortly after the launch, NASA mission managers said a section of Atlantis' blanket had come loose during the launch, leaving a four inch gap in the protection it provides.

However, the area that is exposed is not considered to pose a great risk to the Shuttle and its crew during re-entry. For one thing, it doesn't get as hot as other areas: "only" around 1,000 degrees. And according to the Houston Chronicle, thermal blankets have come unstitched on other shuttle flights, and thermal tiles have been lost in the same area without causing any problems.

John Shannon, chairman of the mission management team, said at a news conference: "It's not a great deal of concern right now, but there's a lot of work to be done. Other than that, the vehicle is very clean."

Engineers will now run simulations of the stresses of re-entry to determine whether or not the area needs to be repaired. The crew has a couple of options if it does: they can trim off any loose material and tuck it all back in under a tile, or they could glue a protective plate over the area. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.