Friday, July 17, 2009

Endeavor Up & Got Smacked

Most of you know by now that Endeavor managed to blast off the shuttle pad on it's 6th attempt. Just before blast-off there was some weather difficulty but it cleared up just fine for a beautiful launch. While I was watching the on-board ET camera, however, I and countless others were dismayed to see several several chunks of ET foam or other debris fall off the ET and possibly strike the underside of the shuttle.

I'm sure that elicited a quiet groan from many at NASA who had hoped that the problem had been fixed by now. Sorry folks, but the adhesive you're using still doesn't do the trick.  So now the shuttle team was understandably busy on the first day completing a check of the underside using the camera on the robotic arm. So far, NASA teams have said it doesn't appear to have caused a major problem. The best chance for a good look comes this morning on Friday when the shuttle approaches the ISS and performs a somersault maneuver, giving the high-res cameras on ISS the chance to spot something that may have been missed. Of course, if any damage is deemed to be dangerous, it will call for a dangerous EVA to make repairs to the re-entry tiles.

For me, the safety maneuver is one of my favorite parts of the ride to the ISS. It's a beautiful exercise of piloting skill rarely seen in space missions. Since the days of the shuttle are counting down, don't miss this morning's approach to ISS on NASA TV.

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