Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cargo spacecraft moved on station

A Japanese cargo spacecraft that shuttle Discovery's last crew helped pack with trash on its recent visit has been relocated on the International Space Station, setting the stage for its departure later this month.

Working from the station's windowed cupola, Expedition 26 crew members Scott Kelly, Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli maneuvered the station's 58-foot robotic arm to return the HTV-2 spacecraft from the space-facing to Earth-facing port on the Harmony node.

The unmanned cargo ship nicknamed "white stork" was moved to make room for Discovery, which docked at the station Feb. 26 and departed for the final time March 7.

Discovery's six astronauts stayed an extra two days at the outpost to help set up a new module they installed, the last pressurized volume expected to be added to the U.S. segment. Packing materials that covered cargo hauled up in the module was transferred into HTV-2.

The Japanese spacecraft is scheduled to depart the station March 28 and burn up in the atmosphere.

Discovery's crew, which landed at Kennedy Space Center at 11:57 a.m. Wednesday, is scheduled to head home to Houston at 2 p.m. today.

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