This has been a busy week for me. I am currently at the airport (waiting for a delayed flight, ick!). Tomorrow a team of us will be at Johnson Space Center to go through a day-long simulation of the type of imagery we will be reviewing for STS-125 in May.
Normally for a flight that is headed to the International Space Station, we would receive high resolution imagery and evaluate the photos to determine if we are good for a safe reentry. Without the station crew to photograph the thermal protection system, the customary survey of the heat shield done the day after launch will be much more intensive. The crew will use the Orbiter's robotic arm and its 50-foot boom extension and sensor systems to perform not only the standard nose cap and wing leading edges inspection, but also a survey of rest of the thermal protection system on the uppper and lower surface.
In the unlikely event that irreparable damage is found, the crew also won’t be able to get to the International Space Station for help as Atlantis can't reach the space station from Hubble’s orbit. Because the crew won't have access to the station and the support it could provide in an emergency, the mission to Hubble requires some help from the ground.
Endeavour will be heading to the pad on April 17th to be the launch-on-need in the event of an emergency.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
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