Spaceflight Now

The Mission

Orbiter: Discovery
Mission: STS-124
Payload: Kibo lab
Launch: May 31, 2008
Time: 5:02 p.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: June 14 @ approx. 11:15 a.m. EDT
Site: Shuttle Landing Facility, KSC

Mission Status Center

STS-124 Quick-Look

Launch Windows Chart

Countdown Timeline

Launch Timeline

Ascent Trajectory Data

Master Flight Plan

Key Mission Personnel

Shuttle Flight History

STS-124 Mission Index

Our Shuttle Archive

The Crew

Meet the astronauts flying aboard Discovery's STS-124 mission.

Meet the Astronauts

CDR: Mark Kelly

PLT: Ken Ham

MS 1: Karen Nyberg

MS 2: Ron Garan

MS 3: Mike Fossum

MS 4: Akihiko Hoshide

Up: Greg Chamitoff

Down: Garrett Reisman

Current Demographics


Complete coverage of the space shuttle Discovery's STS-124 mission to deliver Japan's science laboratory module to the space station. Reload for the latest updates.

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1715 GMT (1:15 p.m. EDT)

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1710 GMT (1:10 p.m. EDT)

The astronauts are heading for crew quarters to be reunited with their family members and have some dinner.

1610 GMT (12:10 p.m. EDT)

Commander Mark Kelly guided the space shuttle Discovery to a sun-drenched Florida landing today, setting down on runway 15 at the Kennedy Space Center to close out a virtually flawless space station assembly mission, leaving a new Japanese lab module behind and bringing flight engineer Garrett Reisman back to Earth after 95 days in space.

Read our latest story.

1555 GMT (11:55 a.m. EDT)

All seven astronauts have exited the space shuttle. They are inside the Crew Transport Vehicle -- a modified airport "People Mover" -- that 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.

1534 GMT (11:34 a.m. EDT)

The astronauts were just given permission to remove their entry spacesuits.

1532 GMT (11:32 a.m. EDT)

The main engine nozzles have been repositioned, or gimbaled, to the "rain drain" orientation. And now the hydraulics are no longer required, so Discovery's three Auxiliary Power Units are being shut down.

1529 GMT (11:29 a.m. EDT)

On the runway, technicians are using instruments to "sniff" the shuttle's exterior to check for any hazardous vapors.

1527 GMT (11:27 a.m. EDT)

The external tank umbilical doors on the shuttle's belly have bee opened, the body flap set, and the pyrotechnics for the crew module hatch and drag chute safed.

1521 GMT (11:21 a.m. EDT)

Here are the landing times in Eastern Daylight Time and Mission Elapsed Time:

Main Gear Touchdown
11:15:19 a.m. EDT
MET: 13 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes, 7 seconds

Nose Gear Touchdown
11:15:30 a.m. EDT
MET: 13 days, 18 hours, 13 minutes, 18 seconds

Wheels Stop
11:16:19 a.m. EDT
MET: 13 days, 18 hours, 14 minutes, 7 seconds

1518 GMT (11:18 a.m. EDT)

The crew is beginning the post-landing procedures on Discovery.

1516 GMT (11:16 a.m. EDT)

WHEELS STOP. Discovery has returned to Earth from its 35th flight, a two-week mission to trucked the Japanese Kibo science laboratory to the space station.

1515 GMT (11:15 a.m. EDT)

Discovery is rolling down the runway at Kennedy Space Center to conclude its voyage spanning 5.7 million miles.

1515 GMT (11:15 a.m. EDT)

TOUCHDOWN! Main gear touchdown. Pilot Ken Ham is unfurling the drag chute as commander Mark Kelly brings the nose gear to the surface of Runway 15.

1515 GMT (11:15 a.m. EDT)

Pilot Ken Ham is deploying the landing gear. Standing by for touchdown on Runway 15.

1514 GMT (11:14 a.m. EDT)

Now 3,000 feet. Wings are level on final approach.

1514 GMT (11:14 a.m. EDT)

Altitude 5,000 feet. The shuttle descending at a rate seven times steeper than that of a commercial airliner.

1513 GMT (11:13 a.m. EDT)

Field in sight. Commander Mark Kelly reports he can see the runway as he guides Discovery to landing.

1513 GMT (11:13 a.m. EDT)

Discovery is 23,000 feet in altitude as the sweeping turn continues.

1512 GMT (11:12 a.m. EDT)

Now descending through 30,000 feet.

1512 GMT (11:12 a.m. EDT)

The shuttle is in the Heading Alignment Cylinder, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 15. Commander Mark Kelly is piloting Discovery through a 245-degree left-overhead turn over the Atlantic to loop around for landing on the northwest to southeast runway.

1512 GMT (11:12 a.m. EDT)

The twin sonic booms have rumbled across the Kennedy Space Center area, announcing the shuttle's arrival.

1511 GMT (11:11 a.m. EDT)

The astronauts have taken manual control of Discovery.

1510 GMT (11:10 a.m. EDT)

Discovery is 61,000 feet in altitude.

1510 GMT (11:10 a.m. EDT)

The crew has been given a "go" for normal deployment of the drag chute after main gear touchdown.

1509 GMT (11:09 a.m. EDT)

Discovery soaring over Central Florida, just six minutes from touchdown.

1508 GMT (11:08 a.m. EDT)

Seven 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.

1507 GMT (11:07 a.m. EDT)

Long-range tracking cameras have spotted Discovery, some 111 miles away.

1506 GMT (11:06 a.m. EDT)

Speed now Mach 5.5.

1505 GMT (11:05 a.m. EDT)

Ten minutes from landing. Discovery is 265 miles from the runway.

1504 GMT (11:04 a.m. EDT)

Now 11 minutes from touchdown. Mission Control computes Discovery will land 2,600 feet down the runway at 195 knots.

1503 GMT (11:03 a.m. EDT)

Range to touchdown now 400 miles.

1501 GMT (11:01 a.m. EDT)

Altitude 35 miles. The shuttle is over the Gulf of Mexico, flying just west of Cuba.

1500 GMT (11:00 a.m. EDT)

Discovery is flying above the Yucatan Peninsula, some 750 nautical miles from the runway.

1458 GMT (10:58 a.m. EDT)

The rate of descent has increased to 137 feet per second. Mission Control says all systems aboard the spacecraft look good.

1457 GMT (10:57 a.m. EDT)

Discovery is approaching the coast of North America. The shuttle will fly over southern Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula during the next few minutes.

1455 GMT (10:55 a.m. EDT)

Twenty minutes to landing. Discovery is 44 miles in altitude, traveling at Mach 21.

1451 GMT (10:51 a.m. EDT)

Discovery's rate of descent is 80 feet per second.

1450 GMT (10:50 a.m. EDT)

Time to touchdown now 25 minutes. Discovery is 48 miles up and performing 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.

1448 GMT (10:48 a.m. EDT)

Discovery now passing through the period of peak heating.

1447 GMT (10:47 a.m. EDT)

Altitude of the shuttle is 53 miles above the Pacific.

1445 GMT (10:45 a.m. EDT)

Now 30 minutes from touchdown. Discovery's track to landing is illustrated here.

1443 GMT (10:43 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.

Touchdown remains set for 11:15 a.m. EDT in Florida.

1440 GMT (10:40 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 is located about three miles northwest of the 525-foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building.

Discovery is targeting Runway 15, which is the northwest to southeast approach. The shuttle will make a 245-degree left overhead turn to align with the runway.

1435 GMT (10:35 a.m. EDT)

Now 40 minutes to touchdown. Onboard guidance has maneuvered 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 10:43 a.m. EDT.

1431 GMT (10:31 a.m. EDT)

All three Auxiliary Power Units are up and running now.

1425 GMT (10:25 a.m. EDT)

Touchdown is 50 minutes away. This will be the 69th shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center.

1421 GMT (10:21 a.m. EDT)

While Discovery passes off the southwest coast of Australia, the convoy of landing support vehicles at Kennedy Space Center are en route to runway staging point for receiving Discovery.

1419 GMT (10:19 a.m. EDT)

Excess propellant reserves in the maneuvering thrusters on the shuttle's nose will be dumped overboard. The dump time will be 37 seconds.

1415 GMT (10:15 a.m. EDT)

Sixty minutes to touchdown. Discovery is now maneuvering to the orientation for entry.

1412 GMT (10:12 a.m. EDT)

DEORBIT BURN COMPLETE. Discovery has successfully completed the deorbit burn for the trip back home. Landing is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. EDT at the Cape to conclude this 14-day space station assembly mission.

1412 GMT (10:12 a.m. EDT)

Both engines are firing well.

1410 GMT (10:10 a.m. EDT)

DEORBIT BURN IGNITION. Flying upside down and backwards 218 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 two minutes and 34 seconds, slowing the craft by about 200 mph to slip from orbit. The retro-burn will send Discovery to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a touchdown at 11:15 a.m. EDT.

1406 GMT (10:06 a.m. EDT)

Pilot Ken Ham has activated one of three Auxiliary Power Units in advance of the 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 needs only a single unit to make a safe landing.

1355 GMT (9:55 a.m. EDT)

Discovery has reached the proper orientation for the deorbit burn.

1348 GMT (9:48 a.m. EDT)

GO FOR THE DEORBIT BURN! Good weather awaits the space shuttle at Kennedy Space Center, so entry flight director Richard Jones in Mission Control just gave approval for Discovery to perform the deorbit burn at 10:10:12 a.m. EDT that will commit the shuttle for the trip back to Earth.

Touchdown in Florida on Runway 15 is set for 11:15 a.m. EDT.

1347 GMT (9:47 a.m. EDT)

Discovery is beginning the maneuver to the deorbit burn attitude.

1330 GMT (9:30 a.m. EDT)

Clouds are beginning to develop around the Kennedy Space Center. Meteorologists are watching the weather very carefully as clocks tick down in the Mission Control for the deorbit burn at 10:10 a.m.

1310 GMT (9:10 a.m. EDT)

The crew has been given a "go" to start the "fluid loading" protocol. That involves drinking large amounts of liquids and salt tablets to assist in the readaptation to Earth's gravity. Water, chicken consomme, orange and lemon-lime drinks are on the menu for the astronauts to pick from.

1245 GMT (8:45 a.m. EDT)

At this point in the deorbit preparation timeline, commander Mark Kelly and pilot Ken Ham should be climbing into their bright orange launch and entry spacesuit. They'll be strapping into the flight deck's left-forward and right-forward seats shortly while the rest of the crewmembers don their suits.

1215 GMT (8:15 a.m. EDT)

Now three hours from touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center.

1206 GMT (8:06 a.m. EDT)

The latest data from Mission Control shows the upcoming deorbit burn ignition time will be 10:10:12 a.m. EDT. The twin braking rockets will fire for two minutes and 34 seconds.

1159 GMT (7:59 a.m. EDT)

Mission Control just told the astronauts that Runway 15 will remain the targeted end of the Shuttle Landing Facility today. There had been discussion this morning about switching to Runway 33. But in the end flight controllers have opted to stick with original plan.

Shuttle Discovery will approach the Kennedy Space Center from the west, with commander Mark Kelly making a sweeping 240-degree left-hand turn to align with the northwest-to-southeast landing strip.

1151 GMT (7:51 a.m. EDT)

The onboard software switch has been completed.

1137 GMT (7:37 a.m. EDT)

Mission Control has given the crew a "go" to transition the 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.

1133 GMT (7:33 a.m. EDT)

Discovery's 60-foot-long payload bay doors are now closed and locked in preparation for today's fiery descent into Earth's atmosphere and landing at Kennedy Space Center, with touchdown at 11:15 a.m. EDT.

Weather conditions are beautiful on this Saturday morning in east-central Florida. The latest landing time forecast still calls for only a few clouds, good visibility and light winds.

1125 GMT (7:25 a.m. EDT)

The "go" has been radioed to the crew for payload bay door closing.

1040 GMT (6:40 a.m. EDT)

Read our morning story here.

1010 GMT (6:10 a.m. EDT)

Space shuttle Discovery's astronauts are making final preparations for today's reentry into Earth's atmosphere and landing at the Kennedy Space Center to conclude a successful two-week space station assembly mission.

The deorbit burn to begin the descent is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. EDT, with touchdown at the Florida spaceport expected at 11:15 a.m. EDT.

Weather forecasters are predicting just a few clouds and a light northeast wind, excellent conditions for the shuttle's homecoming.

"Yeah, Mark, it's still looking good for the first attempt," CAPCOM astronaut Terry Virts told commander Mark Kelly a short time ago.

Landing remains targeted for Runway 15, the northwest-to-southeast approach. However, discussions are underway in Mission Control about sunglare and possibly changing to the other end of the three-mile concrete landing strip, Runway 33.

FRIDAY, JUNE 13, 2008

The shuttle Discovery is in good shape and ready for landing Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center to close out a successful space station assembly mission, entry Flight Director Richard Jones said today. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group at the Johnson Space Center in Houston is predicting near ideal conditions for the first of two landing opportunities Saturday.

Read our latest story.

1708 GMT (1:08 p.m. EDT)

Read our latest story, updated following today's CBS News interview with the crew.

1545 GMT (11:45 a.m. EDT)

Read our latest story.

1525 GMT (11:25 a.m. EDT)

Mission Control just told the astronauts that the flashing object observed this morning was a metallic clip as had been speculated. It is no concern for entry.

The "bump" or protrusion on the vertical tail is normal and can be seen in pre-flight imagery. It simply was more visible to the crew today based on the way the rudder angled after its movement test this morning.

So NASA says Discovery is in good shape for tomorrow's entry and landing.

1515 GMT (11:15 a.m. EDT)

Engineers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston suspect a flashing bit of debris spotted floating away from the shuttle Discovery this morning may have been one of three clips used to secure thermal insulation in the ship's rudder/speed brake. A lost clip would pose no threat to a safe re-entry, NASA officials say, but engineers are still assessing photos of the debris to confirm its identity.

Read our full story.

1455 GMT (10:55 a.m. EDT)

Engineers believe the object seen floating away from Discovery this morning is one of three thermal clips along the thermal barrier on the shuttle's rudder/speed brake.

"The partial story, right now, it's looking like it's a clip. We have looked at ground pictures and corroborated that with the pictures you took, and they look pretty similar. And it's a clip that comes from the area inside the rudder/speed brake, you know, where the two sides come together. Just a metallic clip back there. So we think that's what it is....We were still analyzing it, we can't definitively say that yet, but that's the direction we're leaning," astronaut Terry Virts just radioed the shuttle crew.

Mission Control says if the object is indeed the clip, it is not a concern for a safe landing of Discovery.

1220 GMT (8:20 a.m. EDT)

The Discovery astronauts tested the shuttle's re-entry systems today and packed up for landing Saturday at the Kennedy Space Center. The tests went well, but the crew reported seeing a piece of debris of some sort floating away from the shuttle a few minutes later. They also called attention to a small protrusion on the shuttle's rudder/speed brake where a bit of insulation might have been displaced.

Read our full story.

Read our earlier status center coverage.

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