In Orbiter Processing Facility 1 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, preparations are under way to install the chin panel on space shuttle Atlantis.
The chin panel is a semicircular-shaped section of reinforced carbon-carbon that fits under the shuttle's nose cap and is part of its thermal protection system. Atlantis is next slated to deliver an Integrated Cargo Carrier and Russian-built Mini Research Module to the International Space Station on the STS-132 mission. The second in a series of new pressurized components for Russia, the module will be permanently attached to the Zarya module. Three spacewalks are planned to store spare components outside the station, including six spare batteries, a boom assembly for the Ku-band antenna and spares for the Canadian Dextre robotic arm extension. A radiator, airlock and European robotic arm for the Russian Multi-purpose Laboratory Module also are payloads on the flight. Launch is targeted for May 14, 2010.
Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder