BY JUSTIN RAY
Follow space shuttle Discovery's STS-128 mission to the International Space Station. Reload this page for the latest updates.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2009It has been a hectic day for space news. After Discovery undocked from the space station, an Atlas 5 rocket successfully launched a mystery payload from Cape Canaveral and then the Augustine panel presented five options for the future of manned space missions.
The shuttle astronauts completed the wing and nose cap observations and then packed away from inspection boom. Analysts on the ground will be examining all of the imagery gathered and should have the heat shield cleared of any concern tomorrow.
2250 GMT (6:50 p.m. EDT)The crew has the inspection boom unstowed and starting the starboard wing surveys.
2106 GMT (5:06 p.m. EDT)The shuttle is quickly departing the vicinity of the space station following separation burn No. 2.
The astronauts will spend the evening hours using the Orbiter Boom Sensor System to inspect the shuttle's wing leading edge panels and nose cap to look for any space debris or micrometeoroid damage that could have occurred during the mission. Standard day-before-landing tests of Discovery's flight controls and thrusters, along with packing up the cabin for entry will fill the crew's Wednesday in orbit.
Landing at the Kennedy Space Center to conclude this spaceflight is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. EDT on Thursday.
The early weather forecast for the Kennedy Space Center has concerns about thunderstorms around the landing site that would prohibit the shuttle's return.
The outlook also includes scattered clouds at 3,000 and 8,000 feet, a broken deck at 25,000 feet, seven miles of visibility, easterly winds from 100 degrees of 7 peaking to 10 knots.
Friday's forecast predicts much of the same.
Here's a look at the landing times for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at KSC and Edwards Air Force Base, California: (all times EDT)
ORBIT...SITE....DEORBIT.......LANDING Thursday, Sept. 10 202.....KSC...06:02 PM.......07:05 PM 203.....KSC...07:39 PM.......08:41 PM Friday, Sept. 11 217.....KSC...04:51 PM.......05:54 PM 218.....KSC...06:26 PM.......07:29 PM 219.....EDW...07:56 PM.......08:59 PM 220.....EDW...09:32 PM.......10:34 PM Saturday, Sept. 12 233.....KSC...05:15 PM.......06:17 PM 234.....EDW...06:45 PM.......07:48 AM 234.....KSC...06:51 PM.......07:53 PM 235.....EDW...08:20 PM.......09:23 PM 236.....EDW...09:57 PM.......10:59 PM
2044 GMT (4:44 p.m. EDT)Discovery is climbing high above and behind the station.
2039 GMT (4:39 p.m. EDT)The shuttle just performed the first of two separation engine firings. This brief burn changed Discovery's speed by about 1.5 feet per second.
2038 GMT (4:38 p.m. EDT)Discovery is back out in front of the International Space Station to complete its full victory lap.
2028 GMT (4:28 p.m. EDT)The shuttle is beneath the station now, continuing its circle around the complex.
2015 GMT (4:15 p.m. EDT)Discovery is nearing a point directly behind the station in terms of the direction of travel of the two spacecraft around the Earth, which is known as the -V bar.
2010 GMT (4:10 p.m. EDT)Distance between the two craft has grown to 648 feet.
2000 GMT (4:00 p.m. EDT)Discovery is reaching a point about 600 feet directly above the space station.
The flyaround started with the shuttle in front of the station. It takes Discovery to a point directly above the complex, then behind it, looping below and back out in front. After climbing above the station for a second time, the final separation engine firing will be performed. This burn will send Discovery away from the vicinity of the station.
1953 GMT (3:53 p.m. EDT)Pilot Kevin Ford has begun flying Discovery in a one-lap flyaround of the station.
1947 GMT (3:47 p.m. EDT)Nearing the 400-foot mark.
1944 GMT (3:44 p.m. EDT)The shuttle is headed to a point more than 500 feet away where it will fire thrusters to begin an arc above the station for today's flyaround starting around 3:55 p.m. EDT.
1941 GMT (3:41 p.m. EDT)Discovery is 200 feet from the station, continuing to separate at 0.25 feet per second.
1937 GMT (3:37 p.m. EDT)Now 133 feet of separation with Discovery moving away at 0.25 feet per second.
1933 GMT (3:33 p.m. EDT)While Discovery leaves the space station, an Atlas 5 rocket is being prepared for blastoff from Cape Canaveral at 5:35 p.m. EDT. You can follow that live in our Mission Status Center by clicking here.
1930 GMT (3:30 p.m. EDT)Discovery is 34 feet from the station as it slowly backs away.
1929 GMT (3:29 p.m. EDT)The undocking occurred on time as the two spacecraft flew 223 miles over western China near the Mongolian border.
1926 GMT (3:26 p.m. EDT)UNDOCKING! Discovery and the International Space Station are parting company after 8 days, 18 hours and 32 minutes of being linked together high above Earth. The successful visit by the space shuttle delivered new science gear and supplies.
Discovery is due home at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday evening, weather permitting.
1924 GMT (3:24 p.m. EDT)Hooks and latches are driving open.
1921 GMT (3:21 p.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 Kevin Ford will fire Discovery's thrusters to continue the movement away.
1910 GMT (3:10 p.m. EDT)The spacecraft are passing into an orbital sunset. The undocking will occur in darkness but the later flyaround of the station by Discovery will take place in daylight.
1858 GMT (2:58 p.m. EDT)Both the shuttle and station flight control teams report all systems are ready for the undocking at 3:26 p.m. Discovery's guidance system was aligned this afternoon, the entire shuttle/station complex was reoriented to the proper attitude for undocking and the station's giant solar arrays have been positioned to protect them from shuttle thruster plumes.
1832 GMT (2:32 p.m. EDT)Throughout the time Discovery has been docked to the space station, the combined stack flew in an orientation with the Russian segment leading the way. This was meant to keep Discovery's heat shield out of the direction of travel. But as undocking approaches, the stack has been turned 180 degrees to enable Discovery to separate and fly out in front of the station, reversing its path to docking nealry 9 days ago.
1824 GMT (2:24 p.m. EDT)The station is nearing the undocking attitude.
1735 GMT (1:35 p.m. EDT)The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. O) can be downloaded here.
1730 GMT (1:30 p.m. EDT)The space shuttle reaction control jets have begun maneuvering the space station complex to the proper orientation for undocking. This swings the station 180 degrees so that Discovery is in front of the complex instead of behind, in regards to the direction of travel. It should take about 55 minutes to complete.
1725 GMT (1:25 p.m. EDT)The Discovery astronauts are gearing up to undock from the International Space Station today to close out a successful resupply mission. After a 360-degree photo-documentation fly around, the astronauts will carry out a final inspection of the shuttle's critical nose cap and wing leading edge panels to set the stage for re-entry and landing Thursday.
Read our full story.
1703 GMT (1:03 p.m. EDT)The astronauts are powering up extra onboard electronics and performing an alignment of the inertial measurement units as part of their pre-undocking checklist.
1630 GMT (12:30 p.m. EDT)The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. N) can be downloaded here.
1500 GMT (11:00 a.m. EDT Mon.)The astronauts have been awakened for Flight Day 12, which will see the space shuttle Discovery leave the International Space Station after its successful docked mission there. The shuttle is scheduled to depart at 3:26 p.m. EDT and perform a one-lap flyaround of the complex before soaring away.
Read our earlier status center coverage.
Current Shuttle Mission Patch
The official embroidered patch for shuttle Discovery's flight to deliver equipment and research gear to the space station.
Ares 1-X Patch
The official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
STS-127 Mission Crew Patch
The official embroidered patch for shuttle Endeavour's flight to finish building Japanese section of the space station.