CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) Endeavour's astronauts inspected their ship's thermal skin Friday for any possible damage from orbital debris, using a laser-tipped boom that will be left behind at the international space station.
The slow and meticulous survey normally is conducted after a space shuttle leaves the space station. This time, it was done with the shuttle still docked. That's because the 50-foot inspection boom will be left behind for the next shuttle crew.
There won't be room in Discovery's payload bay for an inspection boom in May; Japan's enormous Kibo lab will take up almost every square inch. Two astronauts will attach the boom to the outside of the space station tonight during the fifth and final spacewalk of the shuttle mission.