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Mission Control Clears Shuttle Heat Shield


*Mission Control Clears Shuttle Heat Shield; Williams Sets Spaceflight 

Image above: Astronaut Sunita L. Williams, STS-117 mission specialist, 
uses a computer in the Unity node of the International Space Station 
during flight day five activities while Space Shuttle Atlantis was 
docked with the station. Image credit: NASA


The Mission Control Center in Houston told the STS-117 crew today that 
space shuttle Atlantis’ thermal protection system is cleared for 
re-entry. The astronauts got the good news about 11:20 a.m. EDT while 
they were transferring cargo between Atlantis and the International 
Space Station.

The heat shield was cleared after STS-117 Mission Specialist Danny 
Olivas repaired a protruding thermal blanket on one of Atlantis’ orbital 
maneuvering system pods during Friday’s spacewalk. Atlantis is scheduled 
to leave the station on Tuesday and land Thursday.

Early this morning, Mission Specialist Suni Williams set the record for 
the longest-duration single spaceflight by a woman. Williams passed the 
previous record of 188 days, 4 hours at 1:47 a.m. as STS-117 and 
Expedition 15 crew members slept aboard Atlantis and the station.

Williams began her spaceflight in December when she traveled to the 
station with STS-116. She served six months as a space station crew 
member. The previous record was set by Shannon Lucid on a mission to the 
Russian Mir space station in 1996.

+ Read more about Williams' record-setting spaceflight 

In addition to cargo transfers, today’s schedule includes spacewalk 
preparations and a news conference. The crews will get ready for 
STS-117’s fourth spacewalk by preparing tools and spacesuits that will 
be used by Mission Specialists Patrick Forrester and Steven Swanson.

They will also review procedures for the spacewalk, which was added to 
the schedule after STS-117 arrived at the station. The excursion is set 
to begin at 12:53 p.m. Sunday.

The traditional joint news conference is scheduled to begin at 7:43 
tonight and will air live on NASA TV.

*Navigation Computers Up, Troubleshooting Continues*

International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini said things 
are going well with the efforts to bring Russian navigation computers 
back up to full operation aboard the International Space Station.

“Currently, they have all six computers up while we do some additional 
troubleshooting to understand the environment and how it affects the 
computers,” he said. “The bottom line is it appears to everyone that the 
command and control type computers are functioning just fine.”

Friday, Russian flight controllers and the station crew were able to 
power-up two lanes of the Russian central computer and two lanes of the 
terminal computer by using a jumper cable to bypass a faulty secondary 
power switch.

Flight controllers began sending commands overnight to restart some 
systems. The central computer is now communicating with the U.S. command 
and control computer, and the terminal computer is communicating with 
U.S. navigation computers.

The Russian navigation computers provide backup attitude control and 
orbital altitude adjustments. For now, the station’s control moment 
gyroscopes are handling attitude control, with the shuttle’s propulsion 
system providing backup.

*STS-117 Mission*
+ The Crew 

+ The Mission 

+ The Integrated Truss Structure 
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