Spaceflight Now STS-111

Leonardo stowed in shuttle; Undocking set for Saturday
Posted: June 14, 2002

The Leonardo module is maneuverd back in Endeavour's payload bay by the shuttle's robotic arm. Photo: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now
Up in space today, French astronaut Philippe Perrin, assisted by shuttle commander Kenneth Cockrell, used Endeavour's robot arm to detach the Leonardo cargo module from the international space station's Unity module. He then maneuvered it back into the shuttle's cargo bay for return to Earth. The process began around 3:18 p.m. and took about an hour to complete.

If all goes well, Endeavour will undock from the space station Saturday at 10:32 a.m., setting the stage for return to Earth Monday.

"We've pretty well wrapped up the docked mission now," Hill said. "The logistics module is back in the payload bay and the crew is finishing up some fine details, putting things away in both spacecraft and getting ready for undocking.

"The crew will say their final farewells tomorrow, closing the hatch around 7:30 Houston time (8:30 a.m. EDT) and undocking about two hours later. ... Tomorrow's day will end for both crews about the same, with some much-deserved rest time."

The $150 million Leonardo, also known as a multi-purpose logistics module, was launched to the station aboard Endeavour more fully loaded than any of the four previous MPLM flights to the outpost. Fifteen of 16 internal stowage racks were occupied with supplies, food, clothing, spare parts, new computers and other gear.

Leonardo also carried a science rack provided by the European Space Agency called the Microgravity Science Glovebox. The glovebox is a sealed enclosure with reach-in gloves that gives station scientists an isolated environment in which to safely manipulate fluids, flames and other toxic materials.

Some 1,500 pounds of science gear were unloaded during Endeavour's visit, along with 2,500 pounds of science support hardware. All told, Leonardo carried some 5,600 pounds of cargo and supplies to the station.

Getting the module unloaded was difficult enough. But the astronauts and cosmonauts also had to repack it with no-longer-needed equipment, trash, packing foam and other gear that must be returned to Earth.

"We have a very full MPLM, with 15 of the 16 rack spots taken up and with hopes of filling it to 90 percent capacity for return, which will unload sort of a backlog of excess supplies and equipment on board space station that really needs to be removed," Cockrell said before launch.

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