An Italian-built supply module filled with racks of experiments, supplies and equipment was removed from the bay of space shuttle Discovery and successfully docked to the space station late today.
The 21-foot long Leonardo module was bolted down and officially mated at 5:49 pm EDT, as the space station flew 221 miles over central South America.
The entire process -- from unberthing the module from the shuttle's payload bay to docking it at the Harmony module's earth facing port -- ran thirty minutes ahead of schedule.
Beginning on Tuesday morning at 1:34 am EDT, the combined station and shuttle crew of 13 will enter the pressurized module and begin transferring the 15,200 pounds of item to station.
Transfers will continue all week as the crew takes an item and places it in a predetermined location per an item checklist. Once the module has been unloaded late this week, completed space experiments, empty containers and basic trash will be loaded onto the Italian module for it's return back to earth.
Leonardo will be undocked from the station and returned to Discovery's bay this Monday evening.
Leonardo arrived at the Kennedy Space Center following it's air flight from Italy in August 1998. This is the module's sixth trip to the space station, having first flown in March 2001 aboard Discovery.