NASA examines long stretch of nicks on space shuttle Atlantis

May 13th, 2009 - 1:57 pm ICT by ANI  

Hubble Space Telescope Washington, May 13 (ANI): Astronauts aboard NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis have uncovered a long stretch of nicks on their space shuttle, which are the result of launch debris.

They were inspecting their ship for signs of launch damage when they came across the nicks.

Mission Control informed the crew that it’s a 21-inch stretch of nicks over four to five thermal tiles on the right side of Atlantis. The damage is where the right wing joins the fuselage.

Mission Control says it could be related to debris that came off the fuel tank almost two minutes after liftoff.

NASA said that the damage does not appear to be serious, but more analysis is needed.

Atlantis blasted off on May 11 on a risky repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope. Endeavour is on standby in case a rescue is needed.

This final trip to Hubble is especially dangerous because of all the space junk in the telescope’s 350-mile-high orbit.

Atlantis seems to have come through its launch fairly well, at least. But the analysis is continuing.

On this fifth and final repair mission, Atlantis’ crew will replace Hubble’s batteries and gyroscopes, install two new cameras and take a crack at fixing two broken science instruments, something never before attempted.

They also will remove the command and data-handling unit that failed in September and had to be revived, and put in a spare that was hustled into operation.

Fresh insulating covers will be added to the outside of the telescope, and a new fine guidance sensor for pointing will be hooked up.

Five spacewalks will be needed to accomplish everything. (ANI)

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