STS-117 Crew to Inspect Heat Shield, Prepare for Docking

During its first full day in orbit, the STS-117 crew will inspect Space Shuttle Atlantis’ heat shield and prepare for Sunday’s arrival at the International Space Station.

Crew members will use Atlantis’ robotic arm and an orbiter boom extension to check out the spacecraft’s underside, nose cap and leading edges of the wings. The inspections are conducted to see if any damage occurred to the heat shield during the climb to orbit that began when Atlantis lifted off at 7:38 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

In preparation for Sunday’s activities, the crew will extend the shuttle’s docking ring and prepare tools they will use to rendezvous and link up with the station. Docking is set for 3:38 p.m. EDT Sunday.

The crew members are also slated to check out spacesuits they will use during the mission’s three scheduled spacewalks at the station. The major objective of the spacewalks is the installation and activation of the station’s newest component, the Starboard 3 and 4 (S3/S4) truss segments. The S3/S4 is riding to the international outpost inside the shuttle payload bay.

STS-117 is also delivering a new crew member to the station.

Image above: A video camera aboard Atlantis captured this view of the Earth and the shuttle’s payload bay. Image credit: NASA TV

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