BY JUSTIN RAY
Follow space shuttle Discovery's test flight to the international space station.
Additional coverage for subscribers:
DISCOVERY LANDS AT THE CAPE PLAY
VIEW FROM RUNWAY MID-POINT PLAY
INFRARED TRACKING CAMERA PLAY
SHUTTLE LANDING FACILTY TOWER 2 PLAY
SHUTTLE LANDING FACILTY TOWER 1 PLAY
CAMERA ON NORTH END OF RUNWAY PLAY
CAMERA ON SOUTH END OF RUNWAY PLAY
VIEW FROM VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING ROOF PLAY
COMMANDER SIGNS OFF BEFORE LEAVING SHUTTLE PLAY
PRE-LANDING NEWS BRIEFING DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
SUNDAY TV INTERVIEWS CNN | CBS | FOX | ABC | NBC
BEAUTIFUL DEPARTING VIEWS OF THE STATION PLAY
SHUTTLE DISCOVERY UNDOCKS FROM THE STATION PLAY
SHUTTLE AND ISS CREW FAREWELL CEREMONY PLAY
DISCOVERY'S UNDOCKING FROM STATION EXPLAINED PLAY
BRIEFING ON APU LEAK DIAL-UP | BROADBAND PART 1 & PART 2
DAY 11 MISSION STATUS BRIEFING DIAL-UP | BROADBAND
LATE INSPECTIONS OF DISCOVERY'S PORT-SIDE WING PLAY
LEONARDO MODULE RETURNED TO DISCOVERY PLAY
CARGO MODULE PREPPED FOR REMOVAL FROM ISS PLAY
FLIGHT DIRECTOR EXPLAINS LATE INSPECTIONS PLAY
FLIGHT DIRECTOR EXPLAINS LEONARDO BERTHING PLAY
MORE: STS-121 VIDEO COVERAGE
MONDAY, JULY 17, 2006
The final leg of space shuttle Discovery's 5.3 million mile mission occurred this afternoon when the ship was towed from the runway to bay 3 of the Orbiter Processing Facility. Initial post-landing inspections revealed 93 total hits to the thermal protection system with 11 greater than one inch in diameter, NASA reported.
Preparations now begin for Discovery's next mission, STS-116, targeted for liftoff at approximately 6:55 p.m. EST (2355 GMT) on December 14.
1520 GMT (11:20 a.m. EDT)
Here are the landing times in Eastern Daylight Time and Mission Elapsed Time: (typo fixed)
Main Gear Touchdown
9:14:43 a.m. EDT
MET: 12 days, 18 hours, 36 minutes, 48 seconds
Nose Gear Touchdown
9:14:53 a.m. EDT
MET: 12 days, 18 hours, 36 minutes, 58 seconds
9:15:49 a.m. EDT
MET: 12 days, 18 hours, 37 minutes, 54 seconds
1515 GMT (11:15 a.m. EDT)
Under an overcast sky, the shuttle Discovery glided to a smooth touchdown on runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center today, closing out a successful space station repair and resupply mission that appears to clear the way for resumption of station assembly in September.
With commander Steve Lindsey at the controls, Discovery settled to a tire-smoking, high-speed touchdown at 9:14:43 a.m. A few moments later, pilot Mark Kelly deployed the shuttle's braking parachute, the ship's nose gear dropped to the runway and Discovery rolled to a stop to close out a voyage spanning 5.3 million miles and 202 complete orbits since blastoff July 4.
Read our landing story.
1501 GMT (11:01 a.m. EDT)
The astronauts are heading for crew quarters now to be reunited with their family members.
NASA is planning a post-landing news conference from Kennedy Space Center shortly. That will be followed later today with a briefing from entry flight director Steve Stich and then a crew post-flight news conference.
1457 GMT (10:57 a.m. EDT)
The crew is posing for photos in front of the shuttle.
1446 GMT (10:46 a.m. EDT)
The astronauts, looking to be in good shape after nearly two weeks in space, are inspecting the space shuttle on the runway along with NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and other agency officials.
1439 GMT (10:39 a.m. EDT)
The Crew Transport Vehicle carrying the six Discovery astronauts is driving back from the shuttle. All or at least some of the crew is expected to take the traditional walkaround of Discovery to inspect the ship on the runway.
1355 GMT (9:55 a.m. EDT)
Discovery's crew hatch has been opened.
The Crew Transport Vehicle -- a modified airport "People Mover" -- is pulled up to the side hatch for the astronauts to enter. The CTV features beds and comfortable seats for the astronauts to receive medical checks after returning to Earth's gravity from the weightless environment of space.
1337 GMT (9:37 a.m. EDT)
The astronauts have been given the OK from Mission Control to take off their entry spacesuits. The crew is expected to climb from the shuttle shortly.
1334 GMT (9:34 a.m. EDT)
The orbiter's hydraulics are now off. There were no problems reported by Mission Control with the three APUs during entry and landing.
1333 GMT (9:33 a.m. EDT)
Discovery's three auxiliary power units are being shut down.
1332 GMT (9:32 a.m. EDT)
On the runway, technicians have arrived with instruments to "sniff" the shuttle's exterior to check for any hazardous vapors.
1330 GMT (9:30 a.m. EDT)
The main engine nozzles are being repositioned, or gimbaled, to the "rain drain" orientation.
1326 GMT (9:26 a.m. EDT)
The side hatch and landing gear pyrotechnics have been safed.
1322 GMT (9:22 a.m. EDT)
Post-landing safing of Discovery is underway by the astronauts following touchdown today. The external tank umbilical doors on the shuttle's belly are being opened.
1320 GMT (9:20 a.m. EDT)
The ground convoy is headed to the runway in preparation for securing of the shuttle.
1316 GMT (9:16 a.m. EDT)
WHEELS STOP. Discovery has returned from space, capping a highly successful test flight for the space shuttle program.
1315 GMT (9:15 a.m. EDT)
Discovery is rolling out on Runway 15 on a cloudy summer morning in Central Florida.
1314 GMT (9:14 a.m. EDT)
TOUCHDOWN! Main gear touchdown. Drag chute deployed. Nose gear touchdown.
1314 GMT (9:14 a.m. EDT)
Landing gear down and locked. Standing by for touchdown on Runway 15
1314 GMT (9:14 a.m. EDT)
Discovery is aligned with Runway 15.
1313 GMT (9:13 a.m. EDT)
Wings are level.
1313 GMT (9:13 a.m. EDT)
Field in sight. Commander Steve Lindsey can see the runway as he pilots Discovery to landing. The shuttle descending at a rate seven times steeper than that of a commercial airliner.
1313 GMT (9:13 a.m. EDT)
Discovery descending through 12,000 feet.
1312 GMT (9:12 a.m. EDT)
Altitude 16,000 feet.
1312 GMT (9:12 a.m. EDT)
Commander Steve Lindsey is in control after pilot Mark Kelly got a few moments of stick time.
1311 GMT (9:11 a.m. EDT)
The shuttle is in the Heading Alignment Cylinder, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 15. The crew is piloting Discovery through a 240-degree left-overhead turn. Altitude under 30,000 feet.
1311 GMT (9:11 a.m. EDT)
The sonic booms have thundered across the Cape area, announcing the shuttle's arrival.
1310 GMT (9:10 a.m. EDT)
The right-side probe has finally deployed.
1310 GMT (9:10 a.m. EDT)
Altitude 9 miles, range to touchdown on Runway 15 is 68 miles.
1309 GMT (9:09 a.m. EDT)
Mach 1.7. Altitude 12.5 miles. The right-side air data probe did not deploy.
1308 GMT (9:08 a.m. EDT)
Six minutes to landing. Discovery flying over Central Florida now.
1307 GMT (9:07 a.m. EDT)
Mission controllers report they didn't detect the right-side probe deploy. Crew has been asked to re-flip the switch.
1306 GMT (9:06 a.m. EDT)
Eight minutes to touchdown. Air data probes are being deployed from the shuttle's nose to feed air speed, altitude and angle of attack information to the computers for navigation.
1305 GMT (9:05 a.m. EDT)
Discovery is now making landfall over Florida's southwest coastline.
1304 GMT (9:04 a.m. EDT)
The TACAN navigation units aboard Discovery are now receiving data from beacons located at the landing site.
1303 GMT (9:03 a.m. EDT)
Discovery remains on the proper track for landing in 11 minutes. Mission Control computes Discovery will land 2,400 feet down the runway at 205 knots.
1302 GMT (9:02 a.m. EDT)
The spacecraft is speeding across the Gulf at an Mach 11.6. Altitude 32.5 miles.
1300 GMT (9:00 a.m. EDT)
Discovery is crossing the Yucatan Peninsula. Soon it will cross the Gulf of Mexico and make landfall in Florida for the final minutes to landing.
1300 GMT (9:00 a.m. EDT)
The runway has been changed, officially, to Runway 15. That is the northwest to southeast approach. The change was ordered due to weather that has developed on the path Discovery would have used to Runway 33.
1258 GMT (8:58 a.m. EDT)
Distance left to travel to the runway now 1,000 miles. Sixteen minutes to touchdown.
1258 GMT (8:58 a.m. EDT)
The crew aboard the International Space Station is watching a live video uplink of the landing coverage.
1257 GMT (8:57 a.m. EDT)
The shuttle is experiencing maximum heating as it descends through an altitude of 41 miles at a speed of Mach 20.
1254 GMT (8:54 a.m. EDT)
Discovery has crossed the equator in the central Pacific. Altitude 44 miles, traveling at 15,000 mph.
1251 GMT (8:51 a.m. EDT)
Mission Control just radioed the crew that some weather had developed south of the Runway 33. So controllers are looking at possibly changing the approach and using the north-end of the Shuttle Landing Facility for touchdown on Runway 15.
1249 GMT (8:49 a.m. EDT)
Time to touchdown now 25 minutes. Speed is Mach 24.3.
1248 GMT (8:48 a.m. EDT)
Discovery is beginning the first of four banks to scrub off speed as it plunges into the atmosphere. These turns basically remove the energy Discovery built up during launch. This first bank is to the left.
1247 GMT (8:47 a.m. EDT)
Altitude now 50 miles, 3,700 miles from the runway.
1242 GMT (8:42 a.m. EDT)
ENTRY INTERFACE. Discovery's thermal protection system is feeling heat beginning to build as the orbiter enters the top fringes of the atmosphere -- a period known as entry interface.
The shuttle is flying at Mach 25 with its nose elevated 40 degrees, wings level, at an altitude of 400,000 feet over the southern Pacific Ocean and descending at a rate of over 600 feet per second.
Touchdown is set for 9:14 a.m. EDT in Florida.
1240 GMT (8:40 a.m. EDT)
The shuttle is 96 miles above the South Pacific as it nears the upper fringe of Earth's atmosphere. All three auxiliary power units continue to function normally.
1238 GMT (8:38 a.m. EDT)
Discovery is 108 statute miles in altitude and more than 6,300 miles from the runway.
1234 GMT (8:34 a.m. EDT)
Now 40 minutes to touchdown. Today's landing will mark the 62nd to occur at Kennedy Space Center and the first since December 2002.
1231 GMT (8:31 a.m. EDT)
All three auxiliary power units are now running to supply pressure to the shuttle's hydraulic systems, which in turn move Discovery's aerosurfaces and deploy the landing gear. One unit was started prior to the deorbit burn; the others just a few moments ago. The units are only activated during the launch and landing phases of the shuttle mission.
1228 GMT (8:28 a.m. EDT)
Onboard guidance is maneuvering Discovery from its heads-down, tail-forward position needed for the deorbit burn to the reentry configuration of heads-up and nose-forward. The nose will be pitched upward 40 degrees. In this new position, the black tiles on the shuttle's belly and the reinforced carbon-carbon panels on the wing leading edges and nose cap will shield the spacecraft during the fiery plunge through the Earth's atmosphere with temperatures reaching well over 2,000 degrees F. Discovery will begin interacting with the upper fringes of the atmosphere above the South Pacific at 8:42 a.m. EDT.
1225 GMT (8:25 a.m. EDT)
The propellant no longer needed for the shuttle's forward steering jets is being dumped overboard now.
1224 GMT (8:24 a.m. EDT)
Astronaut Mike Bloomfield, flying weather reconnaissance in the Shuttle Training Aircraft, told flight controllers the shuttle would fly into a broken deck of clouds around 16,000 feet above the landing site but would break out into the clear around 10,000 feet. He also reported smooth air and no turbulence.
1222 GMT (8:22 a.m. EDT)
Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility was built in 1975. The concrete strip is 300 feet wide and 15,000 feet long with 1,000-foot overruns at each end. The runway runs northwest to southeast and is located about three miles northwest of the 525-foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building.
1218 GMT (8:18 a.m. EDT)
The convoy of landing support vehicles is rolling from the staging point to the runway for receiving Discovery.
1214 GMT (8:14 a.m. EDT)
Touchdown is 60 minutes away. Excess propellant reserves in the shuttle's maneuvering thrusters will be dumped overboard. The dump time will be 70 seconds.
1210 GMT (8:10 a.m. EDT)
DEORBIT BURN COMPLETE. Discovery has successfully completed the deorbit burn, committing the shuttle for its journey back to Earth. Landing is scheduled for 9:14 a.m. EDT at the Cape.
1209 GMT (8:09 a.m. EDT)
Now two-thirds of the way through the deorbit burn. No problems reported.
1207 GMT (8:07 a.m. EDT)
DEORBIT BURN IGNITION. Flying upside down and backwards 184 nautical miles above the Indian Ocean, Discovery has begun the deorbit burn. The firing of the twin orbital maneuvering system engines on the tail of the shuttle will last three minutes and two seconds, slowing the craft to slip from orbit. The retro-burn will send Discovery to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a touchdown at 9:14 a.m. EDT.
1203 GMT (8:03 a.m. EDT)
Pilot Mark Kelly has activated one of three Auxiliary Power Units -- APU No. 1 -- in advance of the deorbit burn, now four minutes away. The other two APUs will be started later in the descent to provide pressure needed to power shuttle's hydraulic systems that move the wing flaps, rudder/speed brake, drop the landing gear and steer the nose wheel. NASA ensures that at least one APU is working before committing to the deorbit burn since the shuttle only needs a single unit to make a safe landing.
1201 GMT (8:01 a.m. EDT)
Discovery has maneuvered to the deorbit burn attitude. The shuttle is flying upside-down and backwards with its tail pointed in the direction of travel.
1156 GMT (7:56 a.m. EDT)
GO FOR THE DEORBIT BURN! The six astronauts aboard space shuttle Discovery have received news from Mission Control that weather conditions are deemed acceptable at Kennedy Space Center for landing this morning. The crew is "go" to perform the deorbit burn at 8:06:55 a.m. EDT to commit the shuttle for the trip back to Earth.
The upcoming 3-minute, 2-second retrograde burn using the twin orbital maneuvering system engines on the tail of Discovery will slow the shuttle's velocity by 302 feet per second, just enough to slip the craft out of orbit and begin the plunge into the atmosphere.
Discovery is headed to a landing at 9:14 a.m. EDT on Runway 33 at Kennedy Space Center to end the 12-day, 18-hour, 36-minute mission.
1144 GMT (7:44 a.m. EDT)
CAPCOM Steve Frick says a thunderstorm 40 miles north of the runway and the associated anvil clouds are being watched. A decision on the deorbit burn is just minutes away.
1135 GMT (7:35 a.m. EDT)
The weather watch is going down to the wire. Forecasters with the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at the Johnson Space Center are carefully monitoring rainshowers well north of the Cape and associated anvil clouds.
1131 GMT (7:31 a.m. EDT)
A steering check of the Discovery's twin orbital maneuvering system engines on the tail of the shuttle has been completed. The engines will perform the deorbit burn to slow the ship for entry into the atmosphere this morning.
1107 GMT (7:07 a.m. EDT)
Now 60 minutes till the deorbit burn to brake from space. The crew is scheduled to start strapping into their seats at this point in the deorbit preparation timeline.
The final "go/no go" decision to bring Discovery home on the first of two landing opportunities today is about 40 minutes away. No showers have formed within the 30 mile zone around Kennedy Space Center's runway. But there is rain well north of the landing site, and meteorologists continue to watch for any development closer to the Cape.
1054 GMT (6:54 a.m. EDT)
CAPCOM Steve Frick in Mission Control told commander Steve Lindsey the weather situation is looking more optimistic. So the astronauts have been given a "go" for their fluid loading protocol of drinking large amounts of liquids and salt tablets to assist in the readaptation to Earth's gravity.
1045 GMT (6:45 a.m. EDT)
The crew is donning the bright orange launch and entry suits for their homecoming.
1030 GMT (6:30 a.m. EDT)
The sun is rising on this cloudy morning in Central Florida. Astronauts Kent Rominger and Mike Bloomfield are aloft aboard the Shuttle Training Aircraft to fly weather reconnaissance flights around the Kennedy Space Center area and approaches to the runway for evaluation of the conditions.
1015 GMT (6:15 a.m. EDT)
Weather at the runway is acceptable right now. Two decks of broken clouds are reported at 11,000 and 25,000 feet. Winds are light.
No showers are observed on radar with 30 miles of the runway currently. But there is a concern some showers will develop.
1008 GMT (6:08 a.m. EDT)
Now two hours away from the scheduled three-minute firing of Discovery's twin orbital maneuvering system engines to drop from orbit. Landing is still set for Kennedy Space Center's Runway 33 at 9:14 a.m. EDT. Weather conditions continue to be watched. A final "go" or "no go" call from Mission Control whether to proceed with the deorbit burn is expected by 7:50 a.m. EDT.
0937 GMT (5:37 a.m. EDT)
Discovery's clam-shell-like payload bay doors have been closed and locked in preparation for today's fiery descent into Earth's atmosphere and landing at Kennedy Space Center.
There are no technical problems to report this morning. But the weather forecast continues to be monitored closely. Touchdown is set for 9:14 a.m. EDT.
Meanwhile, Mission Control has given the crew a "go" to transition Discovery's onboard computers from the OPS-2 software used during the shuttle's stay in space to OPS-3, which is the software package that governs entry and landing. And Discovery will soon maneuver to a new orientation in space to improve the communications link with NASA's orbiting data relay satellites.
0930 GMT (5:30 a.m. EDT)
Here is the timeline for today's landing. (all times in EDT and subject to change):
01:08:00 AM Crew wakeup (flight day 14)
03:13:00 AM Group B computer powerup
03:28:00 AM Navigation system alignment
03:43:00 AM Laptop computer teardown
04:09:00 AM Deorbit timeline begins
05:27:00 AM Payload bay door closing
07:47:00 AM Mission control 'go' for deorbit burn
07:53:00 AM Astronauts strap in
08:02:00 AM Single APU start (APU 1)
08:06:55 AM Deorbit ignition (duration: 3:02)
08:09:57 AM Deorbit burn complete (velocity change: 206 mph)
08:42:13 AM Entry interface (altitude: 400,000 feet)
08:47:19 AM 1st roll command to left
08:57:10 AM 1st left-to-right roll reversal
09:00:40 AM C-band radar acquisition
09:07:42 AM Velocity less than mach 2.5
09:09:50 AM Velocity less than mach 1
09:10:11 AM Shuttle banks to line up on runway
09:14:06 AM Landing
0919 GMT (5:19 a.m. EDT)
Mission Control has just given the crew a "go" for closing the payload bay doors as scheduled.
0830 GMT (4:30 a.m. EDT)
The astronauts have begun their deorbit preparations timeline to ready themselves and Discovery for return to Earth less than five hours from now. Closing of the ship's payload bay doors is expected to occur in about an hour, followed by the rocket firing to drop from orbit at 8:07 a.m. and touchdown at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility at 9:14 a.m. EDT.
The weather will be the big hurdle today. There are showers over the Atlantic to the northeast, though they seem to be dissipating before reaching land. The official landing time forecast calls for a few clouds at 2,000 feet, a deck of broken clouds at 10,000 feet and another broken deck at 25,000 feet, visibility of 7 miles, southwesterly winds from 220 degrees at 6 peak 9 knots. There is a chance of rainshowers within 30 miles of the runway, which would be a constraint to landing.
If weather prevents an on-time homecoming today, Discovery would not fire its braking rockets and simply remain in space for an extra 90-minute orbit. The second opportunity to land in Florida this morning would begin with a deorbit burn at 9:43 a.m., with touchdown at 10:50 a.m.
The forecast for the backup opportunity predicts scattered clouds at 2,500 feet, decks of broken clouds at 10,000 and 25,000 feet, visibility of 7 miles, southwesterly winds from 220 degrees at 6 peak 9 knots and showers within 30 miles.
Discovery has just those two shots at landing this morning. The Edwards Air Force Base facility in California was not called up today. So if Florida weather us "no go" for the shuttle, then the orbiter would remain in space for another day.
SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2006
The shuttle Discovery is in excellent condition for landing and with a successful space station repair and resupply mission now in the books, NASA should be clear to resume assembly flights with launch of shuttle Atlantis in late August, Discovery skipper Steve Lindsey said Sunday. Read our full story.
1445 GMT (10:45 a.m. EDT)
NASA managers reviewing laser scans of Discovery's nose cap and wing leading edge panels have found no signs of any micrometeoroid impacts and have officially cleared the shuttle for re-entry Monday, weather permitting, to close out a space station repair and resupply mission. Read our full story.
1245 GMT (8:45 a.m. EDT)
A hydraulic power unit with a leak in its fuel system was fired up early today as part of an otherwise routine flight control system checkout aboard the shuttle Discovery. A quick look at telemetry from APU 1 indicated normal operation and no obvious problems, but it will take several hours to make sure the leak rate stayed constant as engineers predicted. Read our full story.
SATURDAY, JULY 15, 2006
A quick-look assessment of post-undocking laser scans of the shuttle Discovery's nose cap and wing leading edges shows no obvious impact damage from space debris or micrometeoroids. Final clearance to proceed with landing Monday at the Kennedy Space Center will not be given until Sunday, however, after a detailed assessment is completed. Read our full story.
1100 GMT (7:00 a.m. EDT)
The shuttle Discovery undocked from the international space station early today, leaving European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter behind to boost the crew size to three for the first time since downsizing in the wake of the Columbia accident. Read our full story.
1057 GMT (6:57 a.m. EDT)
The final separation thruster firing is underway aboard Discovery to send the shuttle out of the station's neighborhood.
In about three hours, commander Steve Lindsey and mission specialists Lisa Nowak and Mike Fossum will use the Orbital Boom Sensor System to conduct final inspections of the shuttle's starboard wing leading edge RCC panels. Then the ship's nose cap will be checked by pilot Mark Kelly and mission specialist Stephanie Wilson. The port wing was inspected yesterday. These late inspections are looking for any space debris or micrometeoroid impact damage.
Flight controllers will keep Discovery in an orbit about 45 miles behind the station until the Mission Management Team completes a review of the inspection data and clears the shuttle heat shield safe for entry. Discovery will have the capability to return to the station if damage is found.
1036 GMT (6:36 a.m. EDT)
The shuttle and station are flying into an orbital sunrise over South America.
1032 GMT (6:32 a.m. EDT)
Under the control of pilot Mark Kelly, Discovery has begun maneuvering from a point in front of the station to a point directly above the complex. Unlike previous missions, the shuttle is not performing a full one-lap flyaround of the station today.
1029 GMT (6:29 a.m. EDT)
The first of two separation maneuvers using Discovery's reaction control system thrusters has been performed. This was a 1.5 foot per second burn. The shuttle is out in front of the docking port, about 400 feet from the station.
The next separation burn will occur once the shuttle is above the station. That 1 foot per second engine firing boosts Discovery away from the outpost.
1026 GMT (6:26 a.m. EDT)
Discovery is 350 feet from the station.
1021 GMT (6:21 a.m. EDT)
The shuttle is 200 feet away from the station, continuing to move out in front of the orbiting outpost. The rate of separation is three-tenths of a foot per second.
1016 GMT (6:16 a.m. EDT)
Distance between the two spacecraft is now 100 feet.
1012 GMT (6:12 a.m. EDT)
Discovery is now 50 feet from the station, backing away at about 0.2 feet per second. The shuttle is headed to a point about 400 feet away where it will fire thrusters to begin an arc above the station.
1009 GMT (6:09 a.m. EDT)
The on-time undocking occurred in orbital darkness as the station and shuttle flew 223 miles off the coast of New Zealand.
1008 GMT (6:08 a.m. EDT)
UNDOCKING! After nine days of combined operations high above Earth, shuttle Discovery is departing the International Space Station for return to Earth. The shuttle delivered needed supplies and equipment, repaired the station's broken truss railcar and increased the outpost's resident crew back the three people with the addition of German astronaut Thomas Reiter. Discovery headed for landing at Kennedy Space Center at 9:14 a.m. EDT Monday.
1006 GMT (6:06 a.m. EDT)
About two minutes until undocking. The command has been issued to begin driving open the hooks holding Discovery and station together. Once the hooks and latches are opened, one final command will be sent to undock the shuttle.
1003 GMT (6:03 a.m. EDT)
Five minutes from undocking. The steering jets on Discovery are inhibited for the period of physical undocking from the station. The separation occurs when large springs push the two craft apart. Once the shuttle is a couple feet away from the station and the docking devices are clear of one another, pilot Mark Kelly will fire Discovery's thrusters to continue the movement away.
0948 GMT (5:48 a.m. EDT)
All is in readiness for today's undocking of space shuttle Discovery from the space station about 20 minutes from now. The station's solar arrays have been positioned edge-on to the shuttle to ensure they are no damaged from Discovery's thruster plumes.
Station flight engineer Jeff Williams just radioed the shuttle crew that station systems are configured for Discovery's departure. Pilot Mark Kelly replied that they would be "outta here in about 20 minutes."
0810 GMT (4:10 a.m. EDT)
The space station and space shuttle crews just held a farewell ceremony inside the outpost. The six departing Discovery astronauts have said goodbyes to three Expedition residents after more than a week of joint work. The hatchway between the two spacecraft is being closed now. Undocking is scheduled for 6:08 a.m. EDT.
See the undocking timeline here.
FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2006
NASA and the Russian space agency are discussing launch options that almost certainly will shorten the launch window for the agency's next shuttle flight. It now is expected to open Aug. 27 or 28 and may close a week or so earlier than planned because of a requirement to provide time for the station crew to sleep shift between the departure of a U.S. space shuttle and the arrival of a Russian Soyuz capsule. Read our full story.
1830 GMT (2:30 p.m. EDT)
Astronauts Lisa Nowak and Stephanie Wilson, dubbed the "robo chicks" by mission control, used the space station's robot arm to detach a 10-ton cargo module from the lab complex and remount it in Discovery's cargo bay for return to Earth. Engineers, meanwhile, continue assessing the health of the shuttle's hydraulic system but shuttle program manager Wayne Hale said he is optimistic the issue will not have a major impact on Discovery's re-entry and landing Monday. Read our full story.
1458 GMT (10:58 a.m. EDT)
Robot arm operators Stephanie Wilson and Lisa Nowak have delivered the Leonardo cargo-carrying module into space shuttle Discovery's payload bay for the trip back to Kennedy Space Center. The latches have now engaged, firmly locking the Italian-made module into the shuttle.
1345 GMT (9:45 a.m. EDT)
The Leonardo cargo module has detached from the International Space Station's Unity node for its return to the space shuttle payload bay. The astronauts unloaded the module's cargo over the past several days of the mission, then packed some unneeded equipment and materials in the vessel for shipment back to Earth aboard Discovery.
The station robot arm is maneuvering Leonardo toward its slot in the shuttle bay. It should be locked down later this morning.
1130 GMT (7:30 a.m. EDT)
The Discovery astronauts closed up the Leonardo logistics module today and geared up to detach it from the space station and re-install in the shuttle's cargo bay for return to Earth. With undocking from the station on tap Saturday, shuttle pilot Mark Kelly said the crew has accomplished virtually all of the mission's objectives, clearing the way for station assembly to resume this fall. Read our full story.
Read our earlier status center coverage.