Friday, March 04, 2011

Crews appreciate "gi-normous" station

The crews of Discovery and the International Space Station are enjoying an even more spacious research complex after this week's addition of a module delivered by the shuttle. 

"It's huge," said Discovery mission specialist Nicole Stott. " I use a word my son uses all the time, which is 'gi-normous.’ We have 12 people up here now, and honestly, if we spread ourselves out, you could spread across this vehicle and not see another person. It’s that big."

Discovery's crew added the Leonardo module, which will serve primarily as a storage closet. The nearly complete station now has a mass of nearly 1 million pounds.

The joined crews took questions from reporters (Discovery crew in red shirts, Expedition 26 in green) as a break from transferring cargo and trash between modules, work that will continue through the remainder of Discovery's stay.

The shuttle is scheduled to depart the station at 7:03 a.m. Monday and touch down at Kennedy Space Center for the last time at 11:58 a.m Wednesday -- about eight hours before Endeavour is scheduled to roll out to the launch pad.

Discovery's crew of six is busy enough that there's little time to reflect on the flight being Discovery's last. But commander Scott Lindsey said it was hard not to while looking outside the station's windowed Cupola.

"You can look right into Discovery's payload bay and see the wings and see 'Discovery' written on the wings," he said. "At times like that I really reflect about what a great vehicle it's been."

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