Discovery Astronauts Prepare for Repairs
Aug 2, 9:10 AM EDT
By PAM EASTON
Associated Press Writer
SPACE CENTER, Houston (AP) -- Discovery's astronauts are preparing for a high-stakes task that's never before been attempted: sending a spacewalker beneath the craft to repair filler sticking out from ship's thermal tile belly.
NASA says the protruding material could cause dangerous overheating during re-entry and lead to another Columbia-type disaster.
The agency will put astronaut Stephen Robinson on the space station's 58-foot robotic arm Wednesday as part of an unrehearsed maneuver. The arm will be operated by astronauts inside the station, who will bend and wrap Robinson around so he can reach the shuttle's belly.
Once there, he'll tug out the ceramic-fabric filler with his gloved hands. If that doesn't work, he'll cut away the material, which is sticking out about an inch from two spots near Discovery's nose.
Lord of the heavens, we ask Your protection and blessing over the astronauts as they do what is necessary to insure their safety. We know all is in Your hands and we plead for their safe return to earth. In Jesus' name. Amen.