Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Leonardo ready to take up station residence

Discovery astronauts this morning are getting ready to place an orbital moving van in its permanent parking spot on the International Space Station.

At 8:08 a.m., mission specialists Mike Barratt and Nicole Stott are scheduled to grab the Italian-built module nicknamed Leonardo in the shuttle payload bay, using the station's 58-foot robotic arm.

They'll drive the arm from inside the windowed Cupola, whose robotics work station has recovered from a computer crash during yesterday's spacewalk.

Barratt and Stott will pull the cylindrical module from the payload bay at 8:43 a.m. and have it installed on the Earth-facing side of the station's Unity about two hours later. 

Flown seven times as a "moving van" that hauled tons of cargo to and from the station, Leonardo is set to remain a permanent fixture on station, providing a much needed additional 2,400 cubic feet of storage space.

Also today, spacewalkers Steve Bowen and Alvin Drew will be getting ready for the second of the mission's two spacewalks, planned to start at 10:18 a.m. Wednesday.

And a final decision is expected on whether a Soyuz spacecraft will be given a green light to fly around the outpost this weekend to snap pictures of the station, including a one-of-a-kind grouping of all the international partner spacecraft docked there together.

Click here for a more detailed NASA TV schedule of events ("Rev E") and here for the package of Flight Day 6 notes sent up to the crew this morning.

"Discovery continues to perform flawlessly and the teams are working no issues," the notes say.

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