Launch: April 5, 2010
Time: 6:21 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: April 19 @ approx. 8:50 a.m.
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility
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Master Flight Plan
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Welcome to Spaceflight Now's live coverage of space shuttle Discovery's STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. Text updates will appear automatically; there is no need to reload the page.
FRIDAY, APRIL 16, 2010The Discovery astronauts parked the Leonardo cargo module in the shuttle's payload bay Friday and carried out a final heat shield inspection to set the stage for undocking Saturday from the International Space Station.
1700 GMT (1:00 p.m. EDT)
Read our full story.
1545 GMT (11:45 a.m. EDT)The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. L) can be downloaded here.
1255 GMT (8:55 a.m. EDT)The inspections are complete. Downlinking of the data files using the space station's Ku-band system will continue throughout the day.
1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)The astronauts have using the Orbiter Boom Sensor System on the end of the shuttle's robot arm for a series of heat shield inspections. The inspections are similar to the ones performed the day after launch. Today's survey results will be compared with the earlier data to ensure the orbiter's wing leading edge panels and nose cap are free of any space debris impacts that could have happened during the mission.
1212 GMT (8:12 a.m. EDT)Observations of the port wing are now underway. This is the third and final part of the inspections for today.
1100 GMT (7:00 a.m. EDT)Astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Naoko Yamazaki are performing this inspection of the shuttle's reinforced carbon-carbon nose cap.
1033 GMT (6:33 a.m. EDT)The right wing's leading edge panels have been fully scanned using the Orbiter Boom Sensor System. The crew will swing the boom into position to inspect Discovery's nose cap next.
1010 GMT (6:10 a.m. EDT)The starboard wing inspections were budgeted to last three hours and 45 minutes. But Mission Control says the crew has gotten about an hour ahead of their timeline thus far.
0845 GMT (4:45 a.m. EDT)Astronauts Stephanie Wilson, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger and Jim Dutton have started the starboard wing scans.
0816 GMT (4:16 a.m. EDT)The heat shield inspections are about to get underway. Discovery's astronauts are positioning the robot arm and scanning boom into place to start the starboard wing observations.
0714 GMT (3:14 a.m. EDT)Leonardo is back in the payload bay and latched in place for the journey home to Kennedy Space Center.
The Italian-made reusable module, making its seventh trip to the space station, delivered science facilities and experiments, a crew quarters compartment, new exercise equipment and resupplies amounting to thousands of pounds on this mission.
After Leonardo was emptied, stuff needing a ride back to the ground and no-longer-used equipment were stowed into the module.
Once back on Earth, technicians will go to work modifying Leonardo for its next role as a storage room for the International Space Station. It will be launched back to the complex this fall on Discovery's STS-133 mission and permanently attached.
0703 GMT (3:03 a.m. EDT)Astronauts Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki are flying the space station's robot arm to move Leonardo from the control console in the Destiny laboratory. Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is standing by on the shuttle's flight deck to operate the payload latching system to secure the module in Discovery's bay.
0653 GMT (2:53 a.m. EDT)After patiently waiting for the past 10 hours hovering over the space shuttle, the Leonardo module is once again on the motion and now moving down into the payload bay.
0525 GMT (1:25 a.m. EDT)Flight Day 12 is getting underway, albeit an hour later than originally scheduled because the astronauts got to sleep in. Today will see the robotic arm operations to stow Leonardo and then survey Discovery's heat shield throughout the day.
0520 GMT (1:20 a.m. EDT)The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. K) can be downloaded here.
THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 2010The Leonardo cargo module was detached from the International Space Station late Thursday after a lengthy delay due to problems with a berthing mechanism controller. It was parked overnight in a "low hover" position just above the shuttle's payload bay and the astronauts plan to complete the installation early Friday.
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2118 GMT (5:18 p.m. EDT)The astronauts have called it a day and gone to sleep. They left Leonardo in the so-called "low hover" position directly above its slot in Discovery's payload bay. The work to install the module, lock it down and finish with robot arm operations will take approximately 90 minutes to be finished tomorrow.
2055 GMT (4:55 p.m. EDT)Leonardo has been positioned directly above the payload bay of space shuttle Discovery. It is expected that the crew will pause at this point in the procedures and allow Leonardo to remain parked on the robotic arm for the night.
The astronauts will finish the task of inserting into the bay once they wakeup early Friday. Currently, they're already past their bedtime.
2040 GMT (4:40 p.m. EDT)Anchored on the end of the space station's robotic arm, the Leonardo module is undergoing a quarter roll to the proper orientation for entering the payload bay.
2025 GMT (4:25 p.m. EDT)After eight days being attached to the International Space Station for the unloading its cargo and subsequent packing of items for return to Earth, the Leonardo module has been unberthed from the nadir port of the Harmony connecting node.
2023 GMT (4:23 p.m. EDT)The latches have opened, leaving Leonardo in the hand of the robot arm to back away from the station.
2021 GMT (4:21 p.m. EDT)Upcoming in the unberthing sequence, the four latches that firmly connected the module and station for an air-tight seal will open up.
2019 GMT (4:19 p.m. EDT)All 16 of the electrically-driven bolts have disengaged, Mission Control confirms.
2012 GMT (4:12 p.m. EDT)The third bolt set is complete. Final bolts now turning.
2005 GMT (4:05 p.m. EDT)A second batch of bolts are done. The third set is driving now.
1957 GMT (3:57 p.m. EDT)The first set of bolts have been released. Now working on the next set.
1948 GMT (3:48 p.m. EDT)Commands are being sent to loosen the bolts that have held Leonardo to the space station.
1940 GMT (3:40 p.m. EDT)Depressurization of the vestibule and leak checks between Leonardo and its berthing port on the Harmony node have been completed.
1925 GMT (3:25 p.m. EDT)Mission Control projects that the leak checks should be completed in about five minutes. If the crew presses all the way to completion of the module's move the payload bay, that won't be finished until about 6:15 p.m. EDT, two hours after the scheduled start of the crew's sleep period.
1855 GMT (2:55 p.m. EDT)Commander Alan Poindexter previews Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo's return to the payload bay in this pre-flight interview:
"There's not a big mystery to moving the MPLM but it is a complex operation. We have to be quite careful with it. Any time we're moving the robotic arm with a heavy payload on it in close proximity to the structure; we really have to pay attention closely. Stephanie and Naoko are pros at this and they'll get the job done but they'll use the robotic arm to remove Leonardo from the space station and reberth it back in the payload bay.
1821 GMT (2:21 p.m. EDT)Mission Control projects that the depressurization should be completed in about 40 minutes.
1756 GMT (1:56 p.m. EDT)The arm has a firm grasp on Leonardo. The team will oversee the release of 16 electrically-driven bolts and capture latches that have kept the module structurally attached to the station. Once that work is finished, then Leonardo will be free to separate away.
1728 GMT (1:28 p.m. EDT)The International Space Station's robot arm is moving toward the grapple fixture on Leonardo. The arm will do the heavy lifting this afternoon to remove the module and maneuver it down into the shuttle's cargo bay.
1725 GMT (1:25 p.m. EDT)Work to depressurize of the vestibule is in work at last.
1719 GMT (1:19 p.m. EDT)Mission Control just told the crew that they are satisfied with the data results and are ready to get Leonardo back in the payload bay.
1715 GMT (1:15 p.m. EDT)The astronauts are moving forward with the delayed work to separate Leonardo from the space station. While the vestibule is depressed, other members of the crew will get the robotic arm grappled to the mobile.
1655 GMT (12:55 p.m. EDT)If the team decides to continue with Leonardo operations today, there are two courses of action available. The standard plan would see the astronauts operate the robotic arm to remove the module from the station and maneuver it into the shuttle payload bay. But if time runs out this afternoon and the work can't be completed before the crew is scheduled for sleep, ground controllers could remotely operate the arm to pluck the module off the station and position it just above the bay. The astronauts would finish the job when they wake up tomorrow to lock it into Discovery's cargo hold.
1617 GMT (12:17 p.m. EDT)Mission Control says the ground team is about to power up the berthing mechanism panel assembly that had the issue earlier today. If that goes well, the crew could be able to continue with the unbolting of the module. A final go/no go decision is expected around 1 p.m. EDT.
1600 GMT (12:00 p.m. EDT)The astronauts have been given a "go" to press ahead with the preparations necessary for removing Leonardo, including depressurizing the vestibule area between the module and the Harmony connecting node.
1545 GMT (11:45 a.m. EDT)After extensive discussions and troubleshooting, engineers still aren't sure what caused the strange electrical reading this morning during tests on the berthing mechanism. The astronauts also found a broken screw in a connector.
No firm decision has been made about whether Leonardo can be demated today or not. The crew's sleep period begins at 4:21 p.m. EDT.
1421 GMT (10:21 a.m. EDT)Houston believes this latest attempt has successfully gotten the latches to open. The astronauts are going to go take a look.
Engineers are thinking that a light in the work area may have been causing an electrical interference, disrupting the system earlier this morning.
1418 GMT (10:18 a.m. EDT)Ground controllers are commanding the latches to see how they respond. The crew has been asked to have a light ready for going into the vestibule area for inspecting the situation.
1328 GMT (9:28 a.m. EDT)A Mission Control spokeswoman says controllers were able to use a backup electrical path to complete a successful test on the berthing mechanism. They're re-performing the test on the primary electrical path where the problems occurred originally.
1310 GMT (9:10 a.m. EDT)"We still do not have a coherent story for you on the (berthing mechanism)," CAPCOM Stan Love tells the crew. Ongoing efforts to active the system continue to result in expected indications. So today's planned detachment of Leonardo from the space station and stowage back in the shuttle payload bay remains on hold.
1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT)Mission Control continues to test the controller panel assemblies located in the hatchway between the Leonardo module and the Harmony connecting node.
1200 GMT (8:00 a.m. EDT)Mission Control says they've been able to put power through the connections. But they received some unexpected data that is going to require additional examination.
"We are activated and are communicating with the controllers, but we're still showing some off nominal signatures and we're still analyzing," CAPCOM Stan Love tells the crew.
1138 GMT (7:38 a.m. EDT)The astronauts have checked the connectors to controller boxes in the berthing mechanism. They had previously encountered a broken bolt and had to wrap a connector with tape. Houston is going to reattempt powering up those connections.
1107 GMT (7:07 a.m. EDT)The removal of the Leonardo from the International Space Station is being postponed at least a couple of hours because problems getting data from one of the latches in the attachment mechanism, a Mission Control spokeswoman says.
For now, the astronauts have been told to delay grappling Leonardo with the station's robotic arm that has been scheduled for this hour.
0738 GMT (3:38 a.m. EDT)Work inside the Leonardo module has been completed for the mission. Astronaut Clay Anderson just announced that the hatch is now closed.
The station's robot arm will grapple the module in a few hours for its berthing back in the space shuttle payload bay.
0730 GMT (3:30 a.m. EDT)The astronauts are doing a final inventory and look around the inside of Leonardo before the module is sealed up.
0520 GMT (1:20 a.m. EDT)Flight controllers have decided not to add a fourth spacewalk to the shuttle Discovery's mission to replace a nitrogen tank in the International Space Station's ammonia coolant system, concluding the system can safely operate for an extended period despite a stuck valve preventing normal pressurization. Astronaut Megan McArthur radioed the news to shuttle commander Alan Poindexter just after the crew woke up around 12:21 a.m. EDT.
Read our full story.
0426 GMT (12:26 a.m. EDT)No extra EVA. CAPCOM astronaut Megan McArthur in Mission Control just informed the crew that space station officials determined the shuttle Discovery astronauts won't have to conduct unplanned spacewalk.
NASA had been pondering the option of extending the shuttle flight a day and having the shuttle crew perform the spacewalk to replace a troublesome nitrogen tank assembly in the station's cooling system.
But it was decided tonight that the station is in a suitable condition to continue operating without an immediate spacewalk.
0422 GMT (12:22 a.m. EDT)Flight Day 11's wakeup music has played for the astronauts, beginning a day that will see the joint shuttle and station crews finish their work inside Leonardo. They are scheduled to close up the module around 3 a.m. EDT, detach it from the Harmony node around 8:45 a.m. and then berth the reusable cargo-delivery module to Discovery's payload bay.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2010This was the last full day of transfer work for the space shuttle Discovery and International Space Station crews moving items out of the Leonardo moving van and stowing equipment inside for return to Earth.
At present, the combined tally of transfers stands at 94 percent complete. That breaks down to 98 percent for Leonardo and 77 percent for the orbiter's middeck.
1900 GMT (3:00 p.m. EDT)The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. J) can be downloaded here.
1715 GMT (1:15 p.m. EDT)Flight controllers have been unable to re-open a jammed valve in a nitrogen tank assembly needed to pressurize one of the International Space Station's two ammonia coolant loops. Faced with increasing temperatures that could force flight controllers to shut down half the station's systems later this month, NASA managers are considering the possibility of extending Discovery's mission by another day and adding a fourth spacewalk to install a spare nitrogen tank assembly. Another option, assuming the valve defies ongoing troubleshooting efforts, would be to defer the replacement work until after Discovery departs, using space station astronauts instead.
Read our full story.
1545 GMT (11:45 a.m. EDT)NASA planners are considering adding an unscheduled fourth spacewalk to shuttle Discovery's mission to replace a nitrogen tank assembly that has a stuck valve impeding the International Space Station's critical cooling system.
Flight controllers encountered the valve problem early Tuesday when they were sending commands to activate the new ammonia coolant reservoir that spacewalking astronauts installed and hooked up.
Further troubleshooting overnight was unsuccessful in getting the valve to work. The valve has remained stubbornly closed, preventing the supply of nitrogen pressure to that half of the space station's thermal control system.
Mission Control is facing an upcoming period of thermal conditions starting in late April that needs the station's full cooling system working to avoid a major powerdown of equipment.
Replacing just the valve is not feasible, but there are two spare nitrogen tank assemblies aboard the station. If efforts to command the valve open are exhausted with no success, then a spacewalk to swap out the assembly would be required.
A decision should come no later than tomorrow for adding the spacewalk to Discovery's mission, flight director Ron Spencer says. The EVA would extend the shuttle flight by another day.
The option available is having the space station residents conduct the spacewalk after the shuttle departs. But at present, discussions are looking at having the shuttle astronauts perform the task.
We'll have a full story following today's Mission Status Briefing. More background information about this problem can be found in yesterday's story.
0323 GMT (11:23 p.m. EDT Tues.)Another day in orbit has begun for the shuttle Discovery crew. The astronauts' Flight Day 10 includes continued transfer work inside Leonardo, the traditional in-flight crew news conference, an educational event with a high school in North Carolina and some off-duty time.
Read our earlier status center coverage.
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