Wednesday, November 19, 2008

1150p 11/18 Update: Shuttle heat shield cleared for entry as is


Posted: 11:50 PM, 11/18/08

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst

Changes and additions:

   SR-35 (11/18/08): Spacewalk ends
   SR-36 (11/18/08): Mission managers pleased with spacewalk; engineers study options for replacing lost grease guns
   SR-37 (11/18/08): Shuttle heat shield in good shape; officially cleared for entry


11:50 PM, 11/18/08, Update: Shuttle heat shield in good shape; officially cleared for entry

The space shuttle Endeavour's heat shield was given a clean bill of health late today and officially cleared for entry as is. While there are a handful of minor blemishes, engineers studying launch and on-orbit imagery say none of them poses any problem for re-entry.

"Hey, Fergie, we didn't want to interrupt the EVA earlier on to give you this information, but we just wanted to let you know that all the assessments have been completed and as expected, the TPS (thermal protection system) has been cleared for entry," mission control radioed.

"Hey, that is absolutely fantastic news, thanks so much," shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson replied. "It kind of weighs on all of us a little bit until the final word comes, but that is very welcome news. I think we'll all rest a little bit easier tonight."


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