From: NASA HQ
Posted: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
HOUSTON With a new International Space Station module in its cargo bay, Discovery launched on its last mission under a blue Florida sky Thursday.
The shuttle and its crew of six launched from the Kennedy Space Center at 3:53 p.m. CST with the Permanent Multipurpose Module prominent in its cargo bay. The PMM is on its eighth trip to the station. Seven were as the Multipurpose Logistics Module Leonardo.
Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott are scheduled to rendezvous and dock with the station on Saturday. During Discoverys seven days at the station, Bowen and Drew will do two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components.
The reinforced and rewired Leonardo will provide 2,472 cubic feet of additional pressurized space for the station. It is scheduled to be unberthed from Discovery and connected to the stations Unity node on Tuesday. Among its contents are Robonaut 2, the robot much like a human upper torso.
During the first 6.5 hour spacewalk on Monday, Bowen and Drew will stow a failed pump module, install an extension cable and perform other tasks. On the second spacewalk, another scheduled 6.5-hour outing on Wednesday, theyll vent ammonia from the failed pump, install a camera on Dextre, the Canadian robotic device more formally known as the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, and remove insulation from it, install Crew Equipment Translation Aid lights, and troubleshoot a radiator stowage beam bracket.
Another major cargo item, the Express Logistics Carrier 4, is to be taken from Discoverys cargo bay shortly after docking and attached to the station's starboard truss.
Aboard the station waiting to welcome Discovery and its crew are station Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly, and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka, Alexander Kaleri, Dmitry Kondratyev, Paolo Nespoli and Catherine Coleman.
The launch was momentarily delayed by an issue in the range safety command computer system.
The next shuttle status report will be issued after crew wakeup Friday or earlier if warranted.
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