Monday, August 31, 2009
The astronauts aboard the international space station will use their Canadian-built robotic arm to pluck the supply packed Leonardo module from Discovery's payload bay for docking later today.
Beginning at 3:39 pm EDT, the station's arm attached to the orbiter boom extension will reach over to the newly docked space shuttle and slowly raise the module from it's payload bay.
After carefully carrying the module over to the station's Harmony node, the station's arm will attach it to begin seven days of docked operations as astronauts unload the vast array of equipment and supplies for storage on the growing space station.
The Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) is a pressurized cargo carrier holding 15,200 pounds of new experiments from around the globe; the COLBERT treadmill which will improve astronaut exercise on board; and several tanks of oxygen and fuel.
Inside the storage module is a new carbon dioxide scrubbing device; two experiment racks to support new investigations in microgravity; and several items intended for February's upcoming Tranquility module's arrival -- including a new sleeping station compartment
In Leonardo awaiting to be transfered aboard station is a second Minus Eighty Laboratory Freezer which will "preserve biological samples collected on station for later return" to labs back here on earth, stated NASA's Johnson Space Center last week.
Leonardo will stay docked until next Monday evening.
Also on Sunday evening, Discovery astronaut and space rookie Nicole Stott officially became a member of the station's Expedition 20 crew at 11:49 pm EDT, replacing current two month resident Tim Kopra who joins the STS-128 crew.
Discovery's crew now includes commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford, and mission specialists Jose Hernandez, Patrick Forrester, John "Danny" Olivas, Christer Fuglesang (European Space Agency) and former station member Kopra.
Earlier this morning, Hernandez told SpaceLaunchNews.com, "Finished flight day 3 & docked to the Station. Met our 6 neighbors & they seem nice! So nice we are giving one of them a ride home!".
On an interesting note, on Wednesday morning at 3:50 am EDT, Discovery will begin her 5,000th orbit of the earth since launching exactly 25 years ago.