Status Report

NASA STS-134 Report #11 4:00 p.m., Saturday, May 21, 2011

By SpaceRef Editor
May 21, 2011
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NASA STS-134 Report #11  4:00 p.m., Saturday, May 21, 2011

Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

HOUSTON – Mission managers cleared Endeavour’s thermal protection system for reentry after analysis of data and images from an early-morning focused robotic inspection of the tiles.

A conversation with the pope, the focused inspection and spacewalk preparation highlighted Saturday events aboard the shuttle and the International Space Station.

Endeavour crew members, Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Roberto Vittori, Andrew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff gathered in the station’s Kibo module with the Expedition 27 station crew, Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli, Cady Coleman, Andrey Borisenko, Alexander Samokutyaev and Ron Garan for the conversation with Pope Benedict XVI at 6:11 a.m. CDT.

The pope, introduced to the crew by Thomas Reiter, astronaut and director of European Space Agency human spaceflight operations, asked the crews about their views of and thoughts about the Earth. He also asked about what messages they would bring back to Earth from space and what they reflect on in space.

The focused inspection began at 2:35 a.m. Using the shuttle’s Canadarm and the Orbiter Boom Sensor System, Johnson, Fincke and Vittori took a closer look at an area of interest between the right landing gear door and the external tank disconnect door.

They took detailed images and three-dimensional scans of that area during the inspection, which concluded about 3:30 a.m. The data and images were sent down for analysis by experts on the ground.

Sunday’s spacewalk by Feustel and Fincke includes a variety of tasks, including topping off ammonia in a cooling loop, lubricating the port Solar Alpha Rotary Joint, and working with the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre) to install a camera cover and lubricate a latching end effector.

Feustel, Fincke and Chamitoff worked for about two hours to configure spacewalking tools. Near the end of their day all crew members gathered for a spacewalk procedure review. Feustel and Fincke were spending the night in the reduced pressure of the station’s Quest airlock to lower the nitrogen content of their blood and reduce the possibility of nitrogen narcosis in the low pressure of the spacesuits.

The next status report will be issued after crew wakeup or earlier if warranted.

SpaceRef staff editor.