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Progress undocking
The Russian Progress M-54 cargo freighter undocks from the International Space Station's Zvezda service module aft port on March 3, as viewed by onboard and ISS cameras. Known in the station's assembly sequence as Progress 19P, the craft was launched last September with food, water, equipment and fuel. It was filled with trash before the undocking to burn up in the atmosphere.


ISS technical briefing
Mike Suffredini, NASA's program manager for the International Space Station, updates reporters on the technical aspects of implimenting the revised assembly sequence and configuration for the orbiting outpost in this teleconference held March 3.

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New ISS assembly plans
Leaders from the U.S., Russian, European, Japanese and Canadian space agencies hold this press conference at Kennedy Space Center on March 2 following meetings to approve a revised assembly sequence for the International Space Station using 16 space shuttle flights.

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Space shuttle update
A status report on the space shuttle program's efforts to fly the second post-Columbia test flight, including changes to the external fuel tank, is provided in this news conference from Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 28. The participants are Wayne Hale, shuttle program manager, Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director, and Tim Wilson, external tank tiger team lead.

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Lockheed's CEV plans
As part of Lockheed Martin's plans for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the company has announced that final assembly and testing of the capsules will be performed at the Kennedy Space Center's Operations and Checkout Building. Lockheed Martin officials, Florida's lieutenant governor, the local congressman and a county economic development leader held this press conference Feb. 22 to unveil the plans.

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Ultrasound on Discovery arm; Endeavour tiles hit
Posted: March 8, 2006

The shuttle Discovery's robot arm is undergoing ultrasound inspections after a weekend mishap in which a moveable access bucket bumped into the arm during work to clean up broken glass. Two small indentations were found underneath the arm's insulation blankets and NASA wants to make sure the underlying structure wasn't damaged. At the same time, engineers are assessing tile damage to the shuttle Endeavour's body flap caused by equipment that slipped off a tray used by workers inspecting the ship's rudder/speed brake.

File image. Credit: NASA-KSC
The Endeavour incident happened Tuesday morning in Orbiter Processing Facility Bay 2 while technicians were carrying out an X-ray inspection of the rudder and speed brake system in the shuttle's vertical stabilizer.

"While they were doing that, they dropped some equipment off the tray," said Jessica Rye, a NASA spokeswoman. "What they dropped was a film processor, it struck the left hand side of the body flap. There was some tile damage on the body flap, which they're addressing. They're looking, of course, at structural inspections to evaluate if there is any structural damage to the body flap."

In Discovery's hangar (OPF Bay 3), meanwhile, engineers are continuing inspections of the shuttle's 50-foot-long robot. Friday night, engineers servicing the shuttle's heat shield tiles broke a light fixture. During work to vacuum up the fragments, a telescoping bucket used to move technicians from point to point in the cargo bay bumped into the robot arm.

Insulation blankets were removed and engineers spotted apparent damage to an aluminum grounding strap that runs the length of the arm. In addition, there are two small indentations in the arm's so-called outer bumper, an epoxy honeycomb material that protects the arm's underlying carbon composite structure. One indentation is .115 inches deep and 1 inch long and the other is .035 inches deep and a half-inch long.

During Discovery's upcoming mission, the shuttle arm will be used to pick up a long boom equipped with cameras and laser sensors to inspect the shuttle's heat-shield system after launch. In addition, two astronauts will ride about on the end of the boom during the first of three planned spacewalks as part of an engineering study to evaluate the extended arm-boom system's stability. The idea is to find out if the system could be used for heat-shield repair work if such work is ever needed.

To help evaluate the loads on the arm-boom system, Discovery's robot arm has been instrumented and engineers want to make sure the arm itself and the instrumentation were not damaged by the work bucket incident.

As of this writing, the arm damage does not appear to be a threat to the shuttle schedule, but engineers won't know for sure until the ultrasound tests are complete.