NASA: Initial Discovery tasks slowed by broken antenna

Ku-Band antenna woes slow NASA study of data from inspection of heat shields

The malfunctioning Ku-Band antenna on the NASA space shuttle Discovery has forced crew members to seek new ways to complete scheduled tasks just a day into the crew's 13-day mission.

For example, the shuttle crew will have to delay transmitting data data from gathered during this morning's inspection of Discovery 's heat shield until after the shuttle docks with the International Space Station tomorrow.

Generally, data from the inspection, conducted by a robotic arm and Orbiter Boom Sensor System aboard the craft, is transmitted in real-time to NASA ground crews via the Ku-Band antenna. Today, though, the crew had to record a video of the inspection that will be transmitted to earth from the station.

The crew inspected the shuttle's thermal protection system tiles and reinforced carbon panels for any damage that might have occurred during takeoff. The inspection, which is standard NASA procedure in the hours after a shuttle launch, uses cameras and lasers at the end of the boom to provide 3-D views of the shuttle.

The images are transmitted to NASA's ground facilities for inspection by engineers there, who determine whether any further action is needed to protect the craft when it hits blazing hot temperatures during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

Discovery lifted off early Monday morning from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Discovery is on a mission to deliver about 17,000 pounds of supplies and equipment - including science racks and new sleeping quarters for the space station's crew -- to the International Space Station.

The shuttle crew discovered the problems with the antenna soon after the craft entered into orbit around the earth yesterday, when its activation sequence failed. As of this afternoon, the antenna is still out of order.

The dish-shaped antenna is used for high data rate communications -- transmitting video images to the ground, as well as working with the shuttle's radar system to help the shuttle crew rendezvous with the space station.

The space agency yesterday noted that the shuttle has backup systems that will allow its scheduled rendezvous with the space station, though the process will be harder.

The shuttle is slated to dock with the space station at 3:44 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.

Shuttle crew members are slated to make three spacewalks during the mission to replace a gyroscope on the station's backbone, install a spare ammonia storage tank and retrieve a Japanese experiment underway on the station's exterior, according to NASA.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags NASA

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Sharon Gaudin

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?