Feeds

Shuttle docks with ISS after 'almost flawless' launch

Torn thermal blanket not a problem

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
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?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.