7 p.m. CDT Thursday, July 16, 2009
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-127 MCC Status Report #03
En route to the International Space Station, astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour spent their first full day in space conducting a routine inspection of their thermal protection system ahead of docking at 12:55 p.m. CDT Friday.

While inspections take place to ensure Endeavour’s wing leading edge panels and nosecap are in good shape, imagery experts will continue to assess the overall health of the shuttle’s Thermal Protection System. The early review indicates only a few minor dings in some tiles is present in video due to some unexpected losses of small foam pieces from the External Tank.

Thursday’s five-hour inspection took place as the seven crew members prepare for the docking to the station as the two spacecraft pass high above the Tasman Sea bridging the gap between southern Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Space Shuttle Discovery is being readied at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for its next mission targeted for mid August. Its launch to the station will deliver supplies and logistics to support the six crew members living and working aboard the complex.

Discovery is targeted to roll to the Vehicle Assembly Building Monday to be mated to its External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters before being hauled to the launch pad a week later.

On orbit, Endeavour’s crew checked out spacesuits that will be used during the five spacewalks planned during the docked phase of the mission. In preparation for docking, the crew tested rendezvous equipment, installed an Orbiter Docking System “centerline” camera and extended the docking ring atop the docking system before heading for its eight hour sleep period beginning about 10 p.m.

The shuttle crew includes Tim Kopra, who will become the newest station crew member after docking and hatch opening. He will replace Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata who returns home after more than four months aboard the station.

Awaiting Endeavour’s arrival at the station are Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineers Michael Barratt, Wakata, Roman Romanenko, Robert Thirsk of the Canadian Space Agency and Frank De Winne of the European Space Agency. The station crew spent the day preparing for seven new visitors by reviewing procedures they will use to capture images of Endeavour as it approaches and conducts a backflip exposing its underside tiles to the long-range camera lenses.

Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Chris Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Dave Wolf, Kopra and Julie Payette of the Canadian Space Agency make up Endeavour’s crew and will awaken at 6:03 a.m. Friday to begin rendezvous activities leading toward docking.

The next status report will be issued after wake-up, or before, if events warrant.

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