Monday, March 16, 2009

STS-119 On task...

Discovery fired thrusters today to fine tune its approach to the ISS.  The astronauts checked their suits and equipment for upcoming EVAs at the station.  The robotic arm with camera was used to check the heatshield. Once completed, and after ground engineers checked flight data and videos, it seems there are no worries about any damage to the orbiter during ascent. There was a slight concern for a while about a possible intersection with orbital debris, but it turned out the junk was far enough that no evasive maneuver was needed.

The problem with orbital space junk is an ever growing threat to operations in space. Last week a sudden alert was declared for ISS and the Expedition 18 crew took the necessary precaution of waiting in the Soyuz capsule until the junk danger passed.  And of course, incidents like the unexpected collision of two satellites earlier this month just make matters way worse. I suspect we will soon be hearing from NASA and other agencies about possibilities of cleaning up some of the junk.

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