Cameras onboard Discovery observed an object falling behind the orbiter during Flight Day 14- which was initially thought to be ice, before images showed it was a thermal clip from the Rudder Speed Brake (RSB).
The focus for engineers was the vertical stabilizer (tail) of Discovery, in order to confirm that the liberation was not critical TPS (Thermal Protection System) material. This was confirmed, with no issues for re-entry on Saturday.
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STS-124 Flight Day 14 Debris event:
The event was observed by the crew onboard Discovery just after the normal EOM-1 (End Of Mission) operations.
These operations include the checkout of the Flight Control System, the activation of one Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) in order to power Discovery’s aerosurfaces, and the Reaction Control System (RCS) hot fire test.
The item liberated from the vehicle shortly after the aerosurface and RCS checks, with initial evaluations classing the debris as ice.
‘High level of confidence that the observed debris is ice,’ noted one e-mail. ‘Processing of the imagery is continuing.’
This became the favorite later in the evaluations, when a set of hi resolution images were sent down to the ground from the Discovery crew.
The loss of one of these seals, or clips, there remains no concern for re-entry.
The other item of interest, the protruding area of TPS that has been observed on Discovery’s RSB, is not believed to be related to the debris event.
This area of interest is understood to be a splitline thermal barrier – which sticks out by design.
Other event for Flight Day 14 include continued cabin stowage, Garrett Riesman’s recumbent seat being set up – following his stay on the International Space Station, a crew deorbit briefing, and the stowage of the Ku-band antenna.
A FES (Flash Evaporator System) dump is also on the schedule, in order to tweak the water quantities for entry.
Meanwhile, evaluations are continuing with the damage to the Flame Trench on Pad 39A, along with checks into potential voids on Pad 39B.
The repair options will be finalized on June 20, ahead of hearing ‘the whole story’ on Pad A at the June 26 PRCB (Program Requirements Control Board) meeting.
While co-chair of the Mission Management Team (MMT) Leroy Cain addressed the media on Thursday, Space Shuttle Program manager John Shannon sent an e-mail to his team to assure there won’t be a delay to STS-125’s launch – targeting October 8 – and to enjoy the gap between the conclusion of STS-124’s mission and the mission to service Hubble.
‘NASA launched a new observatory. Phoenix got some dirt in their oven (which is good). The third space story for the day was this incredibly smooth Shuttle flight; at the end of the mission we delivered the largest lab to the Space Station,’ wrote Shannon. ‘It’s a great time to be in the space business.
‘(I’m) very proud of this team because of all its great work. It really looks like the team has gotten back on stride. ‘We’ll have a little delay while we gear up for Hubble and the special Launch-on-Need plan for that mission.
‘It’s going to be a good time. We’ll be able to take a little time with our families and rest up a bit. We’ll get to work off some of the issues.
‘The Cape folks will be going full steam on the pad repairs. Don’t see how that will delay us or effect us in the manifest at all.
‘Got a report at the schedules telecon that the ET team is back on track and appears can support the manifest with some margin. That was a great story.
‘It’s just a great time right now. Take the little breather we will have after this flight. We’ll come back and hit the Hubble really hard. The entire team has done a great job.’
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