Saturday, March 05, 2011

Discovery finishing last full work day on station

Discovery astronauts are wrapping up their last full day of work on the International Space Station, which saw them further outfit a new module and perform maintenance on life support systems.

Sunday is Discovery's last full day docked at the station, but after a morning work period and some off-duty time, the shuttle and station crews will separate.

They'll say goodbye in an afternoon farewell ceremony and then close the hatches between their spacecraft.

Today, work continued intensively inside the recently installed Leonardo module. Discovery commander Steve Lindsey, pilot Eric Boe and mission specialist Steve Bowen, among others, disassembled metal frames that held payloads and disposed of other packing materials.

The module appeared under renovation, with boxy containers of supplies jutting from every side and racks rotated up and down as the astronauts worked to transition it from its launch configuration to an operational one (above).

"It looks beautiful in there," mission specialist Nicole Stott radioed to ground teams, reporting on the progress made today.

In the Destiny lab, mission specialist Dr. Mike Barratt and Expedition 26 flight engineer Paolo Nespoli of Italy performed surgery on a shorted out heating pad in a system that scrubs carbon dioxide from the air (left).

Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly installed a new filter delivered by Discovery for an oxygen generation system that breaks down water into breathable oxygen and hydrogen that is vented overboard. Work to reactivate the system will continue Sunday.

The six Discovery astronauts are scheduled to go to sleep at 7:23 p.m. EST and awake Sunday at 3:23 a.m.

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