No EVA 4 required for Discovery

by Chris Bergin

NASA’s Mission Management Team (MMT) have just informed the crew of Discovery that another spacewalk (EVA 4) will not be required to repair a thermal protection system (TPS) blanket near the left-hand flight deck (Crew Commander’s) window.

The team, which includes Shuttle managers Wayne Hale and Bill Parsons decided that the issue does not bear a threat to the Orbiter during re-entry.

The crew were informed just a day after Steve Robinson performed a first-of-its-kind spacewalk removed of two protruding gap fillers from the belly of Discovery.

NASA had also revealed that ground crews had spotted a fault in the thermal blanket which protects the shuttle on re-entry – a piece is apparently sticking out under one of its windows.

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi – who has completed three EVAs on STS-114 with Robinson, noted to the ground on hearing a further EVA will not be required: “That’s good news and we’ll be right on the timeline.”

Discovery is due to leave the International Space Station – where she is docked – on Saturday and return to earth early on August 8.

Meanwhile, Commander Eileen Collins noted she is looking forward to returning to Earth.

“We have looked at everything. I wouldn’t fly this flight if I didn’t think it was a safe thing to do,” she once again noted – as the media frenzy continues over the safety of the Shuttle.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back and seeing my family again.”

Astronaut Charles Camarda added: “This is the first time we have ever scrutinized the vehicle like we are doing on orbit.

“I expected the bottom of the vehicle to look a lot worse.”

Also noted today was the scheduled rollout of Shuttle Atlantis – which has been delayed to ‘no sooner than’ 0001am Sunday.

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