The Endeavour crew of mission STS-130. Image: NASA.gov.
As the space shuttle Endeavour steadily makes its way toward the International Space Station, NASA has indicated that the shuttle’s crew are in the process of checking the vehicle for possible damage sustained during launch.
According to the U.S. space administration, the six-strong crew aboard the Endeavour have unfolded a 100-foot boom arm equipped with a scanning laser, which will be used to inspect the delicate heat shielding tiles coating the vehicle’s underside.
A routine safety procedure carried out by shuttle crews following the tragic loss of the space shuttle Columbia in 2003, the astronauts will be checking both the nose and wings for damage caused by pieces of foam insulation falling from the external fuel tank as the vehicle blasted clear of its launch pad on Monday morning.
Once safely docked with the International Space Station, the crew of the Endeavour will help unload and install the orbiting platform’s final U.S. module pod, which includes a collection of domed windows designed to afford its occupants panoramic views of both the Earth and the facility’s exterior.
The Endeavour is expected to arrive at the International Space Station this coming Wednesday.