Launch: April 5, 2010
Time: 6:21 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: April 18 @ approx. 8:30 a.m.
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility
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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.
TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2010The shuttle Discovery's crew will attempt to activate the ship's suspect Ku-band radar during the final stages of rendezvous with the International Space Station early Wednesday. But if it doesn't work - and engineers don't believe it will - the astronauts will use other sensors to update the shuttle's navigation systems.
Read our full story.
1600 GMT (12:00 p.m. EDT)Flight Day 2 is winding down for the astronauts. They'll be heading into an 8-hour sleep period at 12:21 p.m. EDT.
1355 GMT (9:55 a.m. EDT)The crew has extended the docking ring that will connect the shuttle's port to the space station, setting up the springs and shock absorbers to do their roles during the link. The astronauts also set up the centerline camera in the docking port to be used in the final approach.
1332 GMT (9:32 a.m. EDT)Discovery's reaction control jets have been fired for NC3, which is the latest course correction maneuver on the path to reach the space station.
1235 GMT (8:35 a.m. EDT)The Discovery astronauts carried out a detailed inspection of the shuttle's carbon composite nose cap and wing leading edge panels early Tuesday, storing video files on board because of a Ku-band antenna failure that is preventing high-speed data transmission to mission control.
Read our full story.
1215 GMT (8:15 a.m. EDT)The mission's spacewalkers are working down on the middeck have tested and readied the spacesuits to be worn during upcoming excursions outside the International Space Station.
1155 GMT (7:55 a.m. EDT)The Orbiter Boom Sensor System has been locked down in the payload bay, its job of inspecting Discovery's heat shield complete for today. The boom will be used again late in the mission for another round of observations to check for space debris impacts before Discovery comes home.
1105 GMT (7:05 a.m. EDT)Shuttle Discovery is about 1,000 miles behind the International Space Station and closing at a current rate of 97 miles per orbit.
1048 GMT (6:48 a.m. EDT)The port wing sweeps by the inspection boom have been completed by the crew, finishing today's heat shield surveys.
The astronauts will return the 50-foot-long structure back into its cradle in the payload bay a short time from now. A few highlights remaining on the to-do list for this workday include installation of the centerline camera in the Orbiter Docking System to help commander Alan Poindexter during tomorrow's approach to the space station, a checkout of the rendezvous tools and the docking ring will be extended in preparation for linkup with the station's Harmony module.
The crew is scheduled for sleep at 12:21 p.m. EDT.
0903 GMT (5:03 a.m. EDT)Post-launch checks of the reinforced carbon-carbon panels on the leading edge of Discovery's port wing are underway.
0831 GMT (4:31 a.m. EDT)The crew has finished the nose cap survey. The left wing inspections are next up in this multi-hour job to survey the shuttle to look for any signs of launch damage. The precautionary safety inspection has become a standard activity for all post-Columbia shuttle crews.
0739 GMT (3:39 a.m. EDT)The astronauts have swung the inspection boom into position out in front of Discovery to get a closeup look on the shuttle's nose cap.
0724 GMT (3:24 a.m. EDT)Inspections of space shuttle Discovery's starboard wing have finished. The data will be downlinked via the space station's communications assets tomorrow for analysis by specialists on the ground to determine if the spaceplane's heat shield is safe for re-entry.
0645 GMT (2:45 a.m. EDT)Sweeping back and forth, back and forth, the inspection device is looking for any signs of damage to to the leading edge of Discovery's starboard wing that could have occurred during ascent yesterday.
0540 GMT (1:40 a.m. EDT)The Orbiter Boom Sensor System, anchored on the end of shuttle Discovery's robot arm, has been positioned to begin today's heat shield inspections. Scans on the starboard side of the shuttle will be performed first.
The crew completed the calibration and testing of the sensors. They also took imagery of the starboard plate where the launch pad umbilicals connect to the shuttle.
0408 GMT (12:08 a.m. EDT)The boom has been released from its cradle and raised out of the shuttle bay. The astronauts are working to activate the camera and laser sensor package on the boom that will scan the wings and nose of the orbiter over the next several hours.
0348 GMT (11:48 p.m. EDT Mon.)Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger continues to work on the aft flight deck of Discovery to operate the shuttle's robotic arm. The Canadian-built arm just grabbed the Orbiter Boom Sensor System for its hoisting out of the payload bay and today's inspections of the shuttle's heat shield.
0320 GMT (11:20 p.m. EDT Mon.)Pilot Jim Dutton and flight engineer Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger have successfully completed the initial checkout of space shuttle Discovery's robotic arm. And with that news, Houston has given the crew a "go" to unberth the inspection boom using the robot arm.
0310 GMT (11:10 p.m. EDT Mon.)Pilot Jim Dutton explains today's heat shield inspection work:
"We'll take the shuttle arm over and grab that boom and unberth, then use those sensors to essentially scan the leading edge and the underside of each of the wings, as well as around the nose of the shuttle to make sure we don't have any damage and, if we do have damage, to assess how big that damage is.
"It's a long day so we actually rotate through. There's three of us, Dottie, Naoko and myself who will be the primary ones for operating the arm that day, and then Dex and Steph will be sort of the backups where they will be standing back, using a couple of software programs we have to help watch clearances of the arm and the boom to the shuttle, and also to watch the configuration of the arm and make sure it's safe."
0300 GMT (11:00 p.m. EDT Mon.)Shuttle Discovery is about 1,700 miles behind the International Space Station and closing at a current rate of 115 miles per orbit.
0245 GMT (10:45 p.m. EDT Mon.)The Discovery astronauts are preparing for a lengthy inspection of the shuttle's nose cap and wing leading edge panels to make sure the critical heat shield components came through launch without any major problems.
Read our full story.
0157 GMT (9:57 p.m. EDT Mon.)The crew just completed the latest engine firing as part of the two-day rendezvous sequence to catch the space station.
The NC2 burn was executed using both Orbital Maneuvering System engines, changing the shuttle's speed by 42 miles per hour during the 39-second firing.
Discovery was flying in a 205 by 159 mile orbit prior to the burn. The maneuver resulted in boosting the shuttle's orbit to 208 by 199 miles.
0022 GMT (8:22 p.m. EDT Mon.)Shuttle Discovery's astronauts are up and at 'em to begin Flight Day 2, the crew's first full day in orbit.
Today will begin by powering up the shuttle's 50-foot-long robot arm for a post-launch checkout, the proceeding with the inspections of Discovery's heat shield for any signs of launch damage, a routine task for shuttle crews. Other activities include checking out the spacesuits to be worn during the mission's spacewalks and preparing equipment for Wednesday morning's docking to the space station.
Because of the Ku-band communications antenna problem, the inspection imagery and data cannot be downlinked live to Mission Control. The astronauts will record the survey aboard the shuttle and then play it back to the ground from the space station's Ku-band system after docking Wednesday.
Read our earlier status center coverage.
Join Miles O'Brien, David Waters and Leroy Chiao for our live launch webcast from Kennedy Space Center starting at 2 a.m. EDT on launch morning.
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