BY JUSTIN RAY
Follow space shuttle Discovery's STS-128 mission to the International Space Station. Reload this page for the latest updates.
MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 2009Flight Day 3 is winding down and Mission Control has bid the astronauts a good night. Just before signing off, CAPCOM Stan Love radioed commander Rick Sturckow with the news that analysts have cleared Discovery's starboard wing heat shield of any focused inspections. That clears the way for Leonardo's hoisting out of the payload bay and mounting to the space station on Flight Day 4. Had the wing needed follow up examinations, the installation of the cargo module would have been postponed a day to accommodate the extra inspections.
0855 GMT (4:55 a.m. EDT)
0620 GMT (2:20 a.m. EDT)Robotics work between the space station and shuttle arms has been underway for the past couple of hours. The station arm was used to remove the shuttle's inspection boom from its cradle in the payload bay and then hand it off to Discovery's arm. The boom had to be moved to ensure good clearance for the Leonardo cargo module's unberthing Monday evening, but couldn't be unstowed prior to docking because of loads concerns.
0349 GMT (11:49 p.m. EDT Sun.)Astronauts Nicole Stott and Tim Kopra have officially exchanged places between the shuttle and station crews, completing one of the primary objectives of Discovery's mission.
Stott is now a member of the space station's Expedition 20 crew. She will work on the station until the next shuttle mission in November.
Kopra launched to the station in July aboard shuttle Endeavour and will return to Earth with the Discovery astronauts.
0340 GMT (11:40 p.m. EDT Sun.)The astronauts are getting to work transferring equipment carried up in the middeck of Discovery for the space station.
0233 GMT (10:33 p.m. EDT Sun.)HATCHES OPEN. The hatchway between Discovery and the space station was opened at 10:33 p.m. EDT, and now the seven shuttle astronauts are being welcomed aboard the outpost by the six-man Expedition 20 resident crew.
The Expedition 20 crew includes commander Gennady Padalka, NASA astronauts Michael Barratt and Tim Kopra, European astronaut Frank De Winne, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk.
Discovery's crew is commander Rick Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford, mission specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas, Christer Fuglesang and soon-to-be station astronaut Nicole Stott.
Later tonight, Stott and Kopra will exchange positions. Stott will move her things aboard the station and become a member of Expedition 20. Kopra will conclude his month-and-a-half mission as a station flight engineer and join the Discovery crew for return to Earth on September 10.
0115 GMT (9:15 p.m. EDT Sun.)Shuttle commander Frederick Sturckow, forced by a leaky steering jet to use Discovery's big maneuvering thrusters instead of preferred fine-control vernier engines, deftly guided the spaceplace to a smooth docking with the International Space Station Sunday night to cap a two-day rendezvous.
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0107 GMT (9:07 p.m. EDT Sun.)The docking ring has been retracted and the hooks and latches have driven shut to firmly connect the shuttle to the space station. A series of leak checks between the docking ports will take the better part of the next two hours.
0103 GMT (9:03 p.m. EDT Sun.)Discovery's docking mechanism is pulling the two craft together.
0054 GMT (8:54 p.m. EDT Sun.)Docking occurred 10 minutes ahead of schedule as the spacecraft flew in orbital darkness over the Atlantic Ocean.
0054 GMT (8:54 p.m. EDT Sun.)CONTACT AND CAPTURE! Space shuttle Discovery has docked to the International Space Station on the 25th anniversary of its first launch into orbit. The shuttle has arrived at the station for delivery of new science hardware and supplies.
The relative motions of the shuttle and station will be allowed to damp out over the next few minutes by the spring-loaded docking system. Later, the hooks and latches will be closed to firmly join the two craft and Discovery's Orbiter Docking System docking ring will be retracted to form a tight seal.
The opening of hatches between the station and shuttle is expected in about two hours. That will be followed by a welcoming ceremony and safety briefing.
0052 GMT (8:52 p.m. EDT Sun.)About 8 feet to go.
0052 GMT (8:52 p.m. EDT Sun.)Discovery's thrusters are programmed to fire in a post-contact maneuver to force the two docking ports together. That procedure is being armed.
0051 GMT (8:51 p.m. EDT Sun.)Less than 20 feet separate the shuttle from the station. Perfect alignment reported from Mission Control.
0049 GMT (8:49 p.m. EDT Sun.)Discovery is closing at about 0.1 feet per second. Current distance now 26 feet.
0048 GMT (8:48 p.m. EDT Sun.)The alignment looks good between docking ports on Discovery and the space station. The final approach covering the last 30 feet is beginning.
0045 GMT (8:45 p.m. EDT Sun.)Inside 42 feet to docking. Commander Rick Sturckow is getting the shuttle's docking port aligned with the station.
0043 GMT (8:43 p.m. EDT Sun.)About 69 feet separate the shuttle and station.
0042 GMT (8:42 p.m. EDT Sun.)This will be commander Rick Sturckow's fourth visit to the International Space Station, more than any other astronaut. He served as the pilot on the very first assembly mission back in 1998, then again on a supply-delivery and crew rotation flight in 2001. The Marine later commanded a mission in 2007 that installed the third solar-power truss.
0039 GMT (8:39 p.m. EDT Sun.)Now about 124 feet from docking with the shuttle closing at about 0.2 feet per second.
0036 GMT (8:36 p.m. EDT Sun.)Discovery is about 170 feet from the station.
0034 GMT (8:34 p.m. EDT Sun.)The two spacecraft are passing into an orbital sunset while approaching the west coast of South America. Docking is scheduled to occur at the next sunrise.
0029 GMT (8:29 p.m. EDT Sun.)Following shuttle flight director Tony Ceccacci's poll of his team in Mission Control, the astronauts have been given a "go" for docking.
0028 GMT (8:28 p.m. EDT Sun.)The shuttle is less than 300 feet in front of the station complex now.
0027 GMT (8:27 p.m. EDT Sun.)The docking mechanism in Discovery's payload bay is being powered up by the astronauts.
0026 GMT (8:26 p.m. EDT Sun.)The shuttle has reached a point directly in front of the station along the imaginary line called the velocity vector, or +V bar.
0019 GMT (8:19 p.m. EDT Sun.)Discovery is marking the arc from the point beneath the station to a point in front of the complex to align with the docking port on the Harmony module. Docking is about 45 minutes away.
0013 GMT (8:13 p.m. EDT Sun.)The pitch maneuver has been completed. Discovery is back in the orientation where it started, with the payload bay looking up at the station.
0011 GMT (8:11 p.m. EDT Sun.)Mission Control says Discovery's commander is flying a textbook rendezvous pitch maneuver.
0010 GMT (8:10 p.m. EDT Sun.)The main engine nozzles of Discovery are facing the station now as the shuttle points its tail upward.
0009 GMT (8:09 p.m. EDT Sun.)Now flying above New Zealand.
0008 GMT (8:08 p.m. EDT Sun.)This 360-degree, nose-first pirouette by Discovery gives the station crew about 100 seconds of quality photography time to snap detailed pictures of the orbiter's black tiles in the search for any launch impact damage.
0007 GMT (8:07 p.m. EDT Sun.)The formal photo-taking period has started for the Expedition 21 crew, now that the shuttle has rotated its underside in view of the station complex.
0005 GMT (8:05 p.m. EDT Sun.)Discovery is nose-up facing the station.
0003 GMT (8:03 p.m. EDT Sun.)The rendezvous pitch maneuver -- the 360-degree flip -- is beginning. The shuttle is the under the control of commander Rick Sturckow, who is flying the ship from the aft flight deck.
As the shuttle's underside rotates into view, the station's crew will photograph Discovery's belly with handheld digital cameras equipped with 400- and 800-millimeter lenses as part of post-launch inspections of the heat shield.
The 800mm images should provide one-inch resolution for examination of landing gear door and external tank umbilical door seals. The 400mm will yield three-inch resolution.
After completing the RPM maneuver, Discovery will fly directly ahead of the space station with the shuttle's nose facing deep space and its cargo bay pointed at the lab complex. Then Sturckow will guide the spacecraft to a docking with a pressurized mating adapter attached to the Harmony connecting module.
0000 GMT (8:00 p.m. EDT Sun.)Under the manual control of commander Rick Sturckow, shuttle Discovery is closing toward the station at 0.4 feet per second.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 30, 2009The spacecraft are formation-flying 690 feet apart over northern Australia.
2359 GMT (7:59 p.m. EDT)
2356 GMT (7:56 p.m. EDT)Range now 760 feet.
2354 GMT (7:54 p.m. EDT)Discovery astronaut Pat Forrester says the RPM backflip will start in 10 minutes.
2353 GMT (7:53 p.m. EDT)All of Discovery's upward-firing thrusters have been inhibited to protect the space station from any pluming.
2352 GMT (7:52 p.m. EDT)Some 980 feet apart now.
2351 GMT (7:51 p.m. EDT)Station commander commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Michael Barratt are reported ready for their job to photograph Discovery's heat shield during the backflip.
2350 GMT (7:50 p.m. EDT)The distance between the two craft is just 1,200 feet.
2346 GMT (7:46 p.m. EDT)Discovery is less than 2,000 feet beneath the station.
2345 GMT (7:45 p.m. EDT)Another of the mid-course correction burns has been completed by the shuttle to fine-tune its path to the station.
2337 GMT (7:37 p.m. EDT)Discovery is some 4,000 feet away and closing the gap toward the station at about six feet per second. Docking remains scheduled for 9:04 p.m. EDT.
2335 GMT (7:35 p.m. EDT)Mission Control has given the shuttle crew a "go" for the backflip maneuver. The 360-degree flip should start in about 25 minutes.
2334 GMT (7:34 p.m. EDT)The shuttle crew has performed one of the available mid-course correction burns to tweak the flight path toward the International Space Station.
2332 GMT (7:32 p.m. EDT)The space station has been maneuvered to the correct orientation for docking.
2322 GMT (7:22 p.m. EDT)The International Space Station flight control team in Houston has given a "go" for Discovery's continued approach. The shuttle is about two miles away now.
2309 GMT (7:09 p.m. EDT)Communication loops to connect the crews aboard the shuttle and station have been established. "Great to hear your voices, can't wait to see you," Expedition 21 flight engineer Michael Barratt just radioed the Discovery astronauts.
2307 GMT (7:07 p.m. EDT)Distance between the shuttle and the space station is 32,000 feet, closing at 12 mph.
2254 GMT (6:54 p.m. EDT)The shuttle is about 8 statute miles below and behind the space station.
2236 GMT (6:36 p.m. EDT)The rotary joints for the giant solar wings on the International Space Station have been locked in the proper position for docking.
2226 GMT (6:26 p.m. EDT)The shuttle has performed the Terminal Initiation burn using the left-hand Orbital Maneuvering System engine. The 11-second firing changed the shuttle's velocity by 9 feet per second.
This puts the shuttle on a trajectory to directly intercept the orbiting station over the next orbit and a half. This burn is the latest in a series of maneuvers performed by Discovery during its two days of chasing the station since launch Friday night.
Docking is anticipated a little after 9 p.m. EDT.
2205 GMT (6:05 p.m. EDT)The shuttle Discovery's external tank appears to have performed well during the ship's launch overnight Friday. While engineers will not complete a detailed analysis for several more days, no major problems or foam loss have been seen so far in NASA's initial looks at ascent imagery and other data.
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2153 GMT (5:53 p.m. EDT)"Go for TI." CAPCOM Chris Ferguson has radioed approval to Discovery's crew for the Terminal Initiation burn that's scheduled to occur at 6:25 p.m. EDT.
2143 GMT (5:43 p.m. EDT)Distance between the two spacecraft is now 25 statute miles.
2130 GMT (5:30 p.m. EDT)The International Space Station flight control team in Houston has given a "go" for the upcoming Terminal Initiation burn.
2121 GMT (5:21 p.m. EDT)Discovery's onboard computers have been updated with the latest navigational information.
2115 GMT (5:15 p.m. EDT)A reminder that if you will be away from your computer but would like to receive mission updates, sign up for our Twitter feed to get text messages on your cellphone. U.S. readers can also sign up from their phone by texting "follow spaceflightnow" to 40404. (Standard text messaging charges apply.)
2110 GMT (5:10 p.m. EDT)Discovery is about 45 statute miles away from the International Space Station, still on track for docking around 9 p.m. EDT tonight.
2049 GMT (4:49 p.m. EDT)Another burn by the Orbital Maneuvering System engines has occurred to refine Discovery's trajectory. This was a 44-second firing to change the shuttle's velocity by 70 feet per second.
2010 GMT (4:10 p.m. EDT)"Very clean ascent, very clean vehicle," Mission Management Team chairman LeRoy Cain says. Analysis of yesterday's heat shield inspection data is progressing well and no immediate concerns have been noted. Also, post-separation photography of external tank shows no significant foam loss from the ice-frost ramps as seen on the previous two launches.
2001 GMT (4:01 p.m. EDT)The height adjust burn has resulted in Discovery's orbit being increased to 218 x 190 statute miles.
2000 GMT (4:00 p.m. EDT)An orbit raising burn by Discovery's twin maneuvering engines has been completed successfully. This 67-second firing changed the shuttle's velocity by 105 feet per second and boosted Discovery to the space station's altitude for docking later tonight.
1938 GMT (3:38 p.m. EDT)The crew is getting into the official rendezvous timeline. The data processing systems are being configured, the inertial measurement units are being aligned and the Group B equipment will be powered up in support of today's activities.
1920 GMT (3:20 p.m. EDT)The shuttle Discovery, marking the 25th anniversary of its maiden launch in 1984, closed in on the International Space Station today.
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1732 GMT (1:32 p.m. EDT)Discovery's astronauts were awakened to begin docking day with the song "Made to Love" by TobyMac played for soon-to-be station resident Nicole Stott.
Rendezvous operations will begin in about two hours. The Terminal Initiation burn is scheduled for 6:25 p.m. and the 360-degree backflip maneuver in expected at 8:02 p.m. EDT. Discovery should link up with the space station around 9:04 p.m. EDT.
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.