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Shuttle Crew Installs New Storage Platform on International Space Station

14 August 2007

U.S. astronauts from the space shuttle Endeavour have installed a new storage platform on the space station.

Crewmembers used a robotic arm Tuesday to lift the platform from the shuttle's cargo bay and hand it off to the space station's robotic arm. A second pair of crewmembers controlled that arm to finish the installation.

The crewmembers were awakened today with a call wishing astronaut Tracy Caldwell a happy birthday.

On Earth, NASA engineers are still conducting tests to determine whether a gouge in Endeavour's underside must be fixed to ensure a safe re-entry into the atmosphere. NASA says the gouge is deeper than expected and that a repair, if needed, will likely take place on one of the shuttle's remaining spacewalks.

Space agency officials say a piece of foam insulation struck the shuttle during launch last Wednesday, causing the damage.

Monday, astronauts replaced a faulty gyroscope on the support system of the space station. The new gyroscope will help control the station's balance in orbit.

The shuttle is scheduled to undock from the space station on August 20 for the return to Earth.

In February 2003, a damaged heat shield caused the fiery disintegration of the shuttle Columbia. All seven astronauts aboard the craft died as it broke up in the upper atmosphere.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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