SciTechBlog   « Back to Blog Main
March 11, 2008

I'll tumble 4 ya

Posted: 02:49 PM ET

Executing a perfect back flip is typically best left to a gymnast, or maybe a platform diver. But on Wednesday evening it will astronaut Dom Gorie's turn show us his stuff. Piloting the space shuttle Endeavour on final approach to dock with the International Space Station, Commander Gorie will nudge the shuttle into what's called the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, or RPM.

Commander Rick Sturckow at the controls of Atlantis executes a Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver. Source: NASA

Check out a video of the STS-114 RPM here.

Here's how it works: Ever since it launched early Tuesday, Endeavour has been on course to rendezvous with the space station on Flight Day 3. During the day on Wednesday, the shuttle crew will fire the shuttle's thrusters periodically to ease up to the station, approaching from behind and below. When they reach a point about 600 feet below the ISS, Gorie will start the maneuver on cue. It takes about 9 minutes for the entire 360 degree flip to play out.

While Endeavour's underside is exposed to the ISS, station crew members will use digital cameras equipped with 400mm and 800mm lenses to shoot as many as 300 photographs of the delicate heat resistant tiles that cover the shuttle's belly. Those images will be downlinked to the ground later in the day, where teams of experts will pour over them, looking for any signs of damage that may have been caused by flying debris during launch and ascent to space.

The technique was developed in the wake of the Columbia accident in 2003. An investigation board determined that debris hit that shuttle's heat shield during launch, cracking a gash in the wing. When Columbia reentered the atmosphere to land, searing hot gases seeped in, incinerating the spacecraft. Seven astronauts died.

In the aftermath, NASA engineers made a number of modifications to both their hardware and their procedures. And so the RPM was conceived. It was first flown by Commander Eileen Collins on the STS-114 return to flight mission in 2005, and it has been flown on every subsequent mission. Here's a little gallery for you: STS-114, STS-121, STS-115, STS-116, STS-117, STS-118, STS-120, and STS-122.

NASA TV will carry Endeavour's RPM live at 10:20pm Eastern on Wednesday, if you want to watch.

–Kate Tobin, Sr. Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: NASA • Space

Share this on:
Richard   March 12th, 2008 4:54 pm ET

The shuttle looks completely different when it's upside down. ­čÖé This mission looks like a particularly interesting one – not that the shuttle is never not interesting. I especially loved the night launch.


PoreNotPour   March 17th, 2008 12:10 pm ET

"teams of experts will pour over them"

Hope they take a close look before they "pour" over them! Then again they may pore over them...

Mr. Spock   March 23rd, 2008 11:43 pm ET

Always wondered what space would look like and how many more stars and galaxies you can see outside Earth's atmosphere, up there, the view must be incredible. And to see 16 sunrises and sunsets everyday, that must be fantastic.

Jeremiah Baltazor   December 20th, 2020 6:22 pm ET

Jesus bless us, your blog will be the idea specialist for my own business enterprise. My spouse and i want we can perform a few online business with each other.

best ed medication   January 6th, 2021 8:52 pm ET

Thanks for your own work on this website. My mother take interest in participating in research and it is simple to grasp why. My spouse and i notice all relating to the powerful way you provide valuable tips via your website and in addition recommend response from visitors on this subject matter while our own simple princess is undoubtedly studying so much. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. You have been performing a terrific job.

olanzapine tablets   January 10th, 2021 2:04 am ET

Thanks for the useful information on credit repair on your web-site. The thing I would offer as advice to people will be to give up a mentality they will buy at this moment and pay back later. As being a society most people tend to repeat this for many factors. This includes family vacations, furniture, plus items we really want to have. However, you must separate a person's wants from the needs. When you're working to fix your credit score you really have to make some trade-offs. For example you possibly can shop online to economize or you can click on second hand suppliers instead of highly-priced department stores to get clothing.

Mandy Bisanz   January 10th, 2021 11:08 pm ET

Howdy very cool website!! Man .. Excellent .. Amazing .. I'll bookmark your blog and take the feeds additionally¡KI am satisfied to find a lot of useful information here within the post, we'd like develop extra techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing. . . . . .

Juli Mcgarraugh   January 12th, 2021 1:27 am ET

I went over this web site and I think you have a lot of great information, saved to fav (:.

Samual Arnst   January 28th, 2021 10:01 pm ET

Louis Donawa   January 28th, 2021 10:12 pm ET

I am just writing to let you understand of the great encounter my friend's girl went through studying your blog. She learned plenty of things, including what it's like to possess a very effective helping nature to make folks without difficulty have an understanding of certain complicated topics. You undoubtedly exceeded readers' expectations. I appreciate you for supplying these necessary, trustworthy, educational not to mention fun thoughts on the topic to Evelyn.

po┼╝yczki   February 21st, 2021 5:02 pm ET

Keep functioning ,remarkable job! – po┼╝yczki

ClarkPring   March 1st, 2021 8:18 am ET

26umr vqy8a qqmg

Eugene Borchert   March 4th, 2021 10:04 am ET

Lawerence Brak   March 4th, 2021 10:22 am ET

diamond painting kits   March 13th, 2021 2:58 am ET

751259 117619Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It really used to be a leisure account it. Glance complicated to far more delivered agreeable from you! Even so, how can we be in contact? 156607

alprostadil injection video   April 6th, 2021 1:00 pm ET

injectable ed medications muse alprostadil

order tadalafil   April 6th, 2021 1:18 pm ET

tadalafil pills 20mg generic tadalafil united states

side effects for vardenafil   April 6th, 2021 3:37 pm ET

vardenafil generic buy generic vardenafil over the counter with no pres. online

sildenafil online sale   April 7th, 2021 8:27 am ET

sildenafil online australia sildenafil prescription

alprostadil vs bimix vs trimix   April 11th, 2021 5:06 pm ET

alprostadil injection site alprostadil dosage

where can i buy zithromax online   April 13th, 2021 1:56 pm ET

zpak price azitromax

vardenafil vs viagra   April 14th, 2021 1:51 pm ET

vardenafil 10 mg buy vardenafil online without presciption

Leave Your Comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

subscribe RSS Icon
Powered by VIP