Sunday, March 06, 2011

Discovery's last day on station

Today is Discovery's last full day docked at the International Space Station before a planned departure Monday morning.

But the crews flying the two spacecraft will say goodbye before the day is over.

After wrapping up final chores in the morning, including stowing time-sensitive science samples on the shuttle mid-deck, Discovery's five-man, one-woman crew will have some off-duty time and start preparations for undocking.

Around 3:30 p.m. EST they'll join six Expedition 26 cosmonauts and astronauts for a farewell ceremony, then climb into the shuttle and close the hatch behind them.

It will be one of those "bittersweet" moments for lead station flight director Royce Renfrew, who will be sorry to see a Discovery crew closing the shuttle's hatch at the station for the last time, but is thrilled with the success of Discovery's nearly nine-day visit.

"It’s going to be difficult for me not to feel happy, even though I understand this is the last time Discovery’s going to be there," he said.

Here's a look at the day ahead in space (all times Eastern):

IMAGE: Anchored to a Canadarm2 mobile foot restraint, NASA astronaut Steve Bowen, STS-133 mission specialist, participated in the mission's second session of extravehicular activity (EVA) on March 2 as construction and maintenance continued on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA
-- 3:23 a.m.: Discovery and Expedition 26 crews awake.
-- 6:33 a.m.: Cargo transfer resumes.
-- 11:13 a.m.: Discovery off-duty period.
-- 1:30 p.m.: Mission status briefing.
-- 1:58 p.m.: Rendezvous tool checkout.
-- 3:33 p.m.: Farewell and hatch closure.
-- 4:33 p.m.: Centerline camera installation.
-- 6:53 p.m.: Station crew sleeps.
-- 7:23 p.m.: Discovery crew sleeps.

After undocking around 7 a.m. Monday, Discovery plans to make its final touchdown at Kennedy Space Center just before noon Wednesday.

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