Unprecedented Repair Awaits Astronauts

But after a careful review of information sent from the ground, Thomas said he believes the repairs are justified given "every indication is that the removal of the material should be pretty straightforward and pretty easy." xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /

"The bottom line is there is large uncertainty because nobody has a very good handle on the aerodynamics at those altitudes and at those speeds," Hale said. "Given that large degree of uncertainty, life could be normal during entry or some bad things could happen."

Collins told Mission Control early Tuesday that her crew would reschedule its joint meal with the space station's crew and instead focus on procedures for the mission's third spacewalk, expected to take seven hours.

"It's going to be like watching grass grow," Robinson said. "Nothing is going to happen fast."

Spacewalk trainers on Tuesday planned to discuss the repairs with Robinson, who along with his spacewalking partner, Soichi Noguchi, spent more than 300 hours training in a pool where they were weighted down to simulate the zero gravity environment in space.

Spacewalk instructor Cindy Begley said Robinson would have to be careful not to cause any additional damage while under Discovery. He'll have to secure his safety tethers behind him, leave any unneeded tools behind and make sure his helmet doesn't bump into the shuttle's fragile bottom.

Astronauts James Kelly and Wendy Lawrence were aboard the space station reviewing how they would operate the station's arm so Robinson's hands would be close enough to make the repairs, but his feet far enough away not to cause any damage

Kelly and Lawrence seemed pleased with the plan.

"We wouldn't change a thing," Kelly radioed Mission Control. "We will be ready to fly tomorrow."

Discovery will remain docked at the station until Saturday. The shuttle is set return to Earth early Monday.

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