Saturday, March 05, 2011

Cargo moves, maintenence on tap for Discovery

On the first of two bonus days docked at the International Space Station, Discovery astronauts today will continue to demonstrate how much more work can get done when 12 people are working aboard the complex instead of six.

NASA extended Discovery's mission by two days to help put the station in the best shape possible before the six shuttle astronauts head home.

The primary focus today is continued unpacking of the Leonardo module installed earlier this week.

That job is transitioning the module from its launch configuration, which was packed with foam and metal structures to cushion its cargo against launch vibrations, to a configuration station crew members can use easily.

The foam and packing materials are being disposed of with other trash in Japan's HTV-2 cargo spacecraft before its March 28 departure. Some cargo within HTV-2 also must removed or reorganized so it is properly balanced.

Meanwhile, astronauts will also be at work repairing two station systems: a shorted out heater in a Destiny lab system that scrubs carbon dioxide from the air, and an oxygen generation system that was awaiting a new filter delivered by Discovery.

The combined crews are scheduled to wake up at 3:23 a.m. EST. Here's a look at the most recent NASA TV schedule for highlights.

The crews plan to bid each other goodbye Sunday afternoon and close the hatches between their vehicles. Discovery will undock to begin its final journey home from space at 7:03 a.m. Monday, before a planned 11:58 a.m. Wednesday landing at Kennedy Space Center.

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