As the space shuttle Discovery spends her final day docked with the international space station, the two crews will work through America's Labor Day as they return a cargo module to the shuttle's payload bay and say farewell to one another.
Six hours following the crew's wake up at noon EDT today, the space station's Canadian robotic arm will move in and grapple the Italian Leonardo cargo module and undock it from the station. The arm will slowly transition the module over to and place it in the American space shuttle.
Leonardo was docked to space station on August 31 (Read Story), and will be returned to the aft section of Discovery's payload bay at just before 9PM tonight. Over the past several days, the crews completed unloading the module of it's wealth of fresh supplies and new equipment; and began refilling it with 5,223 pounds of experiments, used hardware and trash for the return back to earth.
Leonardo is a reusable cargo carrier and has visited space six times now since 2001, hauling new equipment and supplies each time. The 21 foot long silver module is scheduled to return to space again this March on Discovery's return to station.
The seven member crew of Discovery will say farewell to the six person international crew of the space station in a farewell ceremony which will begin at 10:29 pm EDT this evening. A half hour later, Discovery's crew will close their hatch as the station crew closes their hatch in preparation for the shuttle's undocking and departure on Tuesday afternoon.
Discovery is scheduled to land back at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday evening at 7:05 pm.