NASA STS-119 Report #03 Monday, March 16, 2009 - 8 p.m. CDT


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Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON - Space Shuttle Discovery's first full day in space focused on an up close inspection of its wing leading edge panels using the robotic arm and Orbiter Boom Sensor System extension.

Combined with video documentation on launch day and photographs taken by the International Space Station crew when Discovery approaches on Tuesday afternoon, imagery experts will analyze the photographs and video to assess the health of the shuttle's Thermal Protection System for reentry.

The five-hour inspection today paralleled work by the seven crew members onboard to prepare for the docking Tuesday planned for 4:13 p.m. Some of that work included pre-positioning transfer items and checking out spacesuits that will be used during the three spacewalks planned while Discovery is docked.

In preparation for docking, the crew tested rendezvous equipment, installed an Orbiter Docking System “centerline” camera and extended the docking ring atop the docking system before going to bed just before 1 a.m. Tuesday.

The shuttle crew includes Koichi Wakata - Japanese astronaut on his third mission - who will become the newest station crew member after docking and hatch opening. He will replace Sandy Magnus who returns home after four months aboard the station.

On board the space station, Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineers Yury Lonchakov and Magnus prepared for Discovery's arrival by reviewing procedures they will use to capture images of Discovery as it approaches and conducts a backflip exposing its underside tiles to the paparazzi armed with long-range lenses inside the station.

At about 4:30 Monday afternoon, trajectory experts called off the need for a station maneuver to avoid a piece of space debris when calculations showed it would pass harmlessly by the complex.

The next status report will be issued after crew wake-up at 8:43 a.m. Tuesday, or before, if events warrant.

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