Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Discovery crew opens new module

Discovery astronauts have opened and entered the module they installed today on the International Space Station -- the last living space scheduled to be added to the U.S. segment.

Station commander Scott Kelly was first to float through the hatch of the spacious Leonardo module at 6:17 p.m. EST.

Inside he shook hands with Discovery commander Steve Lindsey, and other crew members followed.

"Looks like a great new module," a mission controller radioed from Houston.

"It’s good to have Leonardo up here and attached," replied Discovery pilot Eric Boe.

The module installed robotically this morning on the Unity node will serve primarily as a storage closet, adding about 2,400 cubic feet of pressurized space.
Aside from Wednesday's planned spacewalk, unpacking and outfitting the module will be the primary focus for Discovery's crew. An extra day was even added to the mission so the crew could get more done, putting them on schedule to leave the station Sunday morning.
The Italian-built Leonardo module, measuring 21 feet long by 15 feet wide, flew to and from the station seven times before being installed today as a permanent addition.

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