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The Space Shuttle reached its orbital destination this morning. Discovery docked with the International Space Station at 11:18 GMT to begin an eight-day stay at the Station. During the approach to the ISS, the Shuttle crew performed a manoeuvre to allow the Station crewmembers to take more imagery of the Station's heat shield.
The seven-member Shuttle crew will enter the ISS later this morning and begin work with the Expedition 11 crew.

Mission imagery continues to provide NASA with valuable data for the safety of this flight and future flights. A team of about 200 people across the country are working to analyze Discovery's first photos. Foam loss from the external tank indicates a need for more improvements to the tank's insulation. Shuttle program managers want to understand this problem and deal with it before flying another mission.

NASA's Mission Management Team Chair Wayne Hale said Wednesday that according to current data, Discovery is in good shape for a safe return home.

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The Space shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank shed several pieces of unexpectedly large foam insulation during launch Tuesday in a serious setback for NASA's return to flight efforts.
Pictures taken by Discovery's astronauts and a camera on the orbiter's belly revealed that a piece of a foam ramp protecting a liquid hydrogen fuel line on the tank broke off about two minutes after launch.



The images also showed that several surprisingly big pieces of foam broke off the tank's bipod area where a pair of struts connects the tank to the orbiter.


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NASA halted future shuttle flights on Wednesday after learning that a large chunk of insulating foam broke off Discovery's external fuel tank during launch

Shuttle Program Manager Bill Parsons, speaking at a post-MMT press briefing this afternoon said: "We had a debris event on the PAL ramp along the LOX field line - below the point where the LH2 ramp begins. Our expectation is that we would not have an unexpected debris event. The PAL ramp is one area we should have reviewed. We knew we would have to remove the PAL ramp. We did not have enough data to be safe and remove it. We had very few problems with it so we decided that it was safe to fly it as is. Clearly, with the event we had, we were wrong.
We did not contact the orbiter at all. But it does give us pause to go back and look at what it is. Until it is closed we will not fly again. Might as well let that out now. Until we are ready we will not fly again. I do not know when that will be. This is a test flight. Obviously we have more work to do.
This is a test flight. It did not perform as well as we would have liked it to. I cannot say what the impact is until we find out what happened. Obviously we cannot fly with PAL ramps coming off the way that this one did. We need to go off and fix it
."

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The position of the STS-114 at 17:24 GMT.

The current TTL Elements are:
STS-114
1 28775U 05026A 05208.61974727 -.00182074 22726-4 -38038-3 0 106
2 28775 051.6445 053.9870 0010497 238.5195 227.0457 15.97827428 169



Predicted path.

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The Space Shuttle Discovery lifting off from Cape Canaveral.


Expand


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Less than 12 hours into its space mission, the shuttle Discovery deployed a 15-metre robotic arm on Wednesday to grapple a special camera and examine its wings and nose cap for damage.

The manoeuvre began shortly after 06h00 GMT, some 45 minutes ahead of time and three hours after the Discovery's crew of seven astronauts were woken by NASA for its labour-intensive day in space.

The two debris events are captured here.



Unfortunate Bird strike


The damage, if any, will be assessed by the "orbiter boom sensor system," a laser sensor and special infrared camera at the end of a Canadian-built 15-metre boom that will be swept back and forth by the robotic arm over the edges of the shuttle's wings and its nose cap.

The scanning operation will be divided into three steps, each 90 minutes long. The data and images gathered by the special cameras will be downlinked to NASA engineers on the ground.

Further examination of the Discovery's thermal shield and external structure will be performed by the boom sensor system once the shuttle docks with the orbiting International Space Station on Thursday - the boom at that time will be grappled by the ISS's robotic arm.


The mission timetable to inspect the heat shields.


-- Edited by Blobrana at 13:05, 2005-07-27

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During lift-off several people noticed something break loose when the solid rocket boosters (SRBs) and the orbiter separated. The cameras on the SRB picked this up, but it is unclear what the debris was.

"The big question is `what is that?` The SRB has already separated, and shortly after separation you can see something there. Is it a big piece far away or a small piece close up?" - NASA.

In the video it appears as though a chunk of material peels off the SRB but it does not hit the orbiter or anything else.
There are reports of a similar piece breaking from the other SRB.
Additional camera views and radar imagery would be available for analysis over the next few days. It will be possible to know within two days everything that fell off the vehicle.

Video from the external tank also indicated that a one-and-a-half inch piece of tile may have broken from the nose landing gear door. Further analysis is needed to determine if this will be a problem for the mission.

"The radar guys are working very hard to see that piece of tile, if that`s what it is, as it departs the vehicle" - NASA.

Once in orbit, the engineering team will eventually examine the tile with the shuttle`s boom.
While it is unclear exactly what damage, if any, was done to the tile, it is not expected for it to be critical. Over the course of the next few days the area will be assessed and repair options, if necessary, will be discussed. The crew is prepared to make such a repair if needed.
One other object that ground cameras caught falling from the main tank may have been a bird.

"Very early, about two and a half seconds into flight, it looks like as we were lifting off one of the birds didn`t get out of the way and it slid down the side of the main tank" - NASA.

Tomorrow, when the crew wakes up, engineers will begin inspecting the wing leading edges and nosecap. On flight day three the underside of the shuttle, and especially the nose landing gear tiles, will be examined. Data from these two days will determine what needs more investigating on flight day four.

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There was no repeat of the fuel sensor problem that delayed the planned July 13 launch.



Media player movie of launch

-- Edited by Blobrana at 00:04, 2005-07-27

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Less than nine minutes after launch, Commander Eileen Collins, Pilot Jim Kelly and Mission Specialists Soichi Noguchi (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency), Steve Robinson, Andy Thomas, Wendy Lawrence and Charlie Camarda were in orbit and ready to open the payload bay doors and unstow their gear in the crew compartment.
Moments after main engine cut-off, Noguchi and Thomas used handheld video and digital still cameras to document the external tank after it separated from the Shuttle. That imagery, and imagery from cameras in the Shuttle's umbilical well where the tank was connected, will also be downlinked for review by mission managers and engineers in the ongoing analysis of the tank's condition following ascent.

The crew plans to unberth and test Discovery's robot arm today before beginning an eight-hour sleep period at shortly before 21:00 GMT. The arm will be used today to collect imagery of the clearances between the Shuttle's Ku-band dish antenna that provides high data rate telemetry and television, and the end of a new 50-foot boom moored to the starboard sill of the spaceship that will be used tomorrow while grappled to the robot arm for a day-long inspection of the leading edges of Discovery's wings. That survey will help to insure that the wings did not incur any damage during launch.

At the time of launch, the International Space Station was 225 miles above the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia as Discovery began its chase for a docking at 11:18 GMT Thursday. Aboard the Station, Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer John Phillips were completing preparations for the arrival of the first Shuttle since Nov. 25, 2002.

When Discovery nears the Station early Thursday morning, Krikalev and Phillips will use digital cameras and high-powered 800MM and 400MM lenses to photograph Discovery's thermal protective tiles and key areas around its main and nose landing gear doors.
Housed in the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module in Discovery's cargo bay is 15 tons of hardware and supplies that will be transferred to the Station after the Shuttle docks to the complex.
The astronauts will be awakened tomorrow at 04:39 GMT to begin their first full day in orbit.

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Footage from the camera mounted on the Shuttle's External Tank just after the Solid Rocket Boosters separated. A piece of material can clearly be seen peeling away from the lower right hand side of the External Tank shortly after the right SRB separated.




-- Edited by Blobrana at 23:24, 2005-07-26

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