Space shuttle astronauts are inspecting “Discovery” today, using high resolution digital video and still cameras and a laser to see if the craft was damaged during launch yesterday. Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports.
The instruments are attached to a 50-foot long robotic boom that’s controlled from inside the shuttle. Astronauts are slowly looking at heat deflecting tiles on both of Discovery’s wings and its nose and belly. Flight director Tony Ceccacci says no damage has been detected yet.
“It they identify anything, they go ahead and put it in their system. As soon as they find something in an area of interest and they identify that, they’ll go ahead and put it on the web page and we’ll start building a list. Hopefully it’s a very small list. We’ll know right away because we need to know that data so that we can start planning our focused inspection operations.”
Ceccacci says a splotch of white on the leading edge of the shuttle’s right wing appears to be bird droppings, not damage from launch.
“That’s my pure speculation on what we saw on the pad and of course when the guys look at it with the actual LDRI data, they’ll be able to confirm that or identify it as an area of concern.”
At least seven pieces of foam from the external fuel tank fell off during launch, but none of them appeared to cause damage to the shuttle. Discovery is expected to dock with the International Space Station at around 10 o’clock tomorrow morning, central time.