Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
HOUSTON - Space shuttle Discovery astronauts will have an extra day to prepare for their mission's fourth spacewalk, as the International Space Station Program has changed its priority from inspection of a rotary joint to repair of a solar array.
The spacewalk, planned for Thursday, now has been moved to Friday, or possibly Saturday if extra time is needed for preparation.
The array was left partially deployed on Tuesday, when damage was noted during its deployment. It is currently providing power, but to ensure that the array receives no further damage, it needs to be fully extended.
Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini said finding a way to do so is the priority for the remainder of the mission and plans for possible solutions are already in the works.
We give this team a little time to start thinking about creative solutions, and it doesnt take them long to blow you away with what they come up with, he said.
The inspection of the starboard Solar Alpha Rotary Joint planned for Thursday will be put off until a later date. The mission's fifth spacewalk which had been planned for Saturday will be performed by the station crew after the shuttle leaves. If the spacewalkers are able to repair the array on Friday, the STS-120 crew of Discovery will then begin preparations for its return to Earth next Wednesday. If they are unable to fix the problem, another spacewalk may be added pending further discussion by station and shuttle management.
The crew spent part of today preparing for the spacewalk they would have taken on Thursday, which will put them ahead of schedule for preparations for Friday's spacewalk. They also participated in a news conference with reporters from the United States, Italy and Russia.
The next STS-120 status report will be issued Thursday morning or earlier if events warrant.