Astronauts on the International Space Station on Sunday are to examine and measure a troublesome gash in the shuttle Endeavour's heat shield, by means of a camera and a laser atop a robotic arm.
The 56-square-centimeter (nine-square-inch) gouge near a landing gear hatch was apparently made by a piece of foam that broke off the shuttle's external fuel tank 58 seconds after Wednesday's launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The laser device will provide the exact measurement and depth of the gash so NASA engineers can decide whether repairs are needed, which would entail prolonging the Endeavour mission to allow for an additional spacewalk.
Endeavour's mission was initially planned for 11 days, with three space walks.
NASA may extend the mission by three days, and add a space walk, after they test a new system that transfers electricity from the ISS to the orbiter, prolonging the life of the shuttle's batteries.
Separately, if NASA decides that the damaged shuttle tiles need fixing, an additional space walk is possible.
NASA on Saturday studied pictures of the damage and said the gash appears to be less serious than previously believed.
Last Mod: 12 Ağustos 2007, 17:54