Discovery's astronauts woke Wednesday for their first full day of work in space. Their first order of business was a seven-hour inspection of the shuttle's wings and nose.
The carefully orchestrated maneuvers - to any find damage that may have occurred during Tuesday's launch - were being performed with a sensor attached to a 50-foot (15-meter) extension of the shuttle's 50-foot (15-meter) robotic arm.
Once complete, three of the seven astronauts planned to remove the extension and use a camera attached to the robotic arm to inspect tiles near the crew cabin and tail.
If the robotic arm or its extension were to bump the vehicle, it could damage the vehicle's fragile exterior. Flight director Paul Hill said he considered the inspections among the most hazardous of the new procedures put in place since the 2003 Columbia tragedy.
"If we make contact with the orbiter while we're doing this, I'm looking for another job," Hill said in the months leading up to the 12-day mission.
Astronauts Stephen Robinson and Soichi Noguchi also planned to prepare the shuttle's airlock for three spacewalks they plan to conduct, the AP reports.
The aircraft to command and control troops in the event of a nuclear war is being built on the basis of the new wide-body Ilyushin Il-96-400M