Saturday, March 05, 2011

New station module "ready for business"

Having the Discovery crew on board the International Space Station for an extra day has helped ready a newly installed module for operations, a NASA flight director said tonight.

"I’m ready to declare that (Leonardo) is essentially ready for business as a module on board ISS at this point," said Royce Renfrew, the lead station flight director during Discovery's extended visit.

Renfrew said the shuttle crew made excellent progress breaking down packing materials and restraints used to secure cargo inside the module during Discovery's launch.

That work is all but complete, with the unneeded materials being packed in a Japanese spacecraft with other garbage that eventually will burn up during atmospheric re-entry.

Station commander Scott Kelly worked on fixes to an oxygen generation system, and Discovery mission specialist Dr. Mike Barratt helped fix a carbon dioxide scrubbing system that had an electrical short in a heater.

"It was somewhat humorous to watch medical Dr. Barratt with a pair of forceps in his hand reach in and get those small wires out and clip them," said Renfrew. "It's happy and healthy, and Mike Barratt’s work on that worked perfectly today."

"All in all just a great day in orbit," Renfrew added. "The additional plus-one day that we wound up with the docked mission here was very well used in getting the ISS in absolute best config we can be in for Discovery’s undock."

Discovery's mission was extended two days following a Feb. 24 from Kennedy Space Center.

"I couldn't be happier," Renfrew said about the success of Discovery's mission so far.

Discovery's crew will spend one more morning working on the station and spending time with its crew before saying goodbye and closing hatches between the vehicles Sunday afternoon. Discovery plans to undock Monday around 7 a.m.

IMAGE: The newly-installed Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) of the International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 26 crew member on March 2 while space shuttle Discovery (STS-133) remains docked with the station. Credit: NASA

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