Feeds

Shuttle docks with ISS after 'almost flawless' launch

Torn thermal blanket not a problem

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter breaks NINETEEN THOUSAND of your EARTH POUNDS
That's right, OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
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.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.