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The Mission




Orbiter: Discovery
Mission: STS-128
Payload: Leonardo
Launch: Aug. 28, 2009
Time: 11:59 p.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: Sept. 11 @ approx. 8:53 p.m. EDT
Site: Edwards Air Force Base, California
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Meet the astronauts flying aboard Discovery's STS-128 mission.

Meet the Astronauts

CDR: Rick Sturckow

PLT: Kevin Ford

MS 1: Pat Forrester

MS 2: Jose Hernandez

MS 3: Danny Olivas

MS 4: Christer Fuglesang

Up: Nicole Stott

Down: Tim Kopra

Current Demographics







Discovery celebrates 25th birthday with station docking
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: August 30, 2009


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Shuttle commander Frederick "C.J." Sturckow, forced by a leaky steering jet to use Discovery's big maneuvering thrusters instead of preferred fine-control vernier engines, deftly guided the spaceplane to a flawless docking with the International Space Station Sunday night to cap a two-day rendezvous.

Approaching from directly in front of the laboratory complex as both spacecraft sailed 220 miles above the central Atlantic Ocean at 5 miles per second, the shuttle's payload bay docking port engaged its counterpart on the front end of the statin's Harmony module at 8:54 p.m. EDT, about 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

"Station and Houston, from Discovery, capture confirmed," astronaut Patrick Forrester radioed from the shuttle.

Over the next 90-minute orbit, the docking mechanisms locked the two craft firmly together and leak checks were carried out to confirm a tight seal before hatch opening later in the evening.

"Hey Pat, before the hatches get opened there and we have a hard time finding C.J., the orbit one shift wanted to pass along what a great job he did on this first ever vern-failed docking," astronaut Chris Ferguson radioed from mission control. "Did a fantastic job. And you'll be happy to know it occurred on the 25th anniversary of the maiden flight of Discovery. So would you pass that along to him for us?"

"OK, Houston, we appreciate those words and thanks for the great support and the great calls by the ground today, a couple of key saves were made," replied Sturckow, believed to be the first astronaut to make four trips to the space station. "So thank you very much."

A few minutes later, at 10:33 p.m., hatches were opened and Sturckow, wearing a bright red Marine Corps baseball cap, led his crew into the space station.

"Space shuttle Discovery, arriving," station commander Gennady Padalka said, ringing the ship's bell in the Harmony module.

Padalka and his five station crewmates warmly embraced their seven shuttle colleagues before gathering for a safety briefing and getting down to work.

The primary goals of the mission are to deliver 7.5 tons of science equipment, life support gear and supplies. Nicole Stott, who hitched a ride to the station aboard Discovery, moved her Soyuz seat liner into the station shortly after docking and at 11:49 p.m., officially replaced astronaut Timothy Kopra as a member of the Expedition 20 crew. Kopra plans to return to Earth aboard the shuttle in Stott's place after 57 days in space.

Three spacewalks are planned, overnight Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, to replace a 1,800-pound ammonia coolant system tank, to retrieve external experiments, deploy a spare parts mounting mechanism and to install wiring needed for a new module scheduled for launch next year.

Before Discovery's arrival, the 83-percent-complete space station massed 699,010 pounds. At docking, the combined spacecraft massed nearly a million pounds.

Discovery's approach to the space station was the first ever conducted using the shuttle's big primary reaction control system maneuvering thrusters, which generate 870 pounds of thrust when ignited. Shuttle commanders normally rely on six small 24-pound-thrust vernier jets - two in the nose and four in the shuttle's aft - to precisely control the final rendezvous sequence.

But one of Discovery's two forward vernier jets failed after launch overnight Friday, forcing flight controllers to close a manifold that isolated both forward thrusters. As a result, Sturckow had to complete the rendezvous using the larger primary jets instead.

Shuttle astronauts routinely train for dockings using an alternate digital autopilot mode, but Sturckow was the first to fly such a "no-vernier" approach in practice.

Trailing the station by 9.2 miles, Sturckow and Ford fired the shuttle's left orbital maneuvering system rocket at 6:26 p.m. to begin the final phase of the rendezvous.

At 8:03 p.m., with the shuttle positioned about 600 feet directly below the station, Sturckow used the primary jets to kick off a slow nine-minute back-flip maneuver to expose the shuttle's belly to the space station.

As it pitched around at a sedate three quarters of a degree per second, Padalka and Michael Barratt, using digital cameras equipped with 400-mm and 800-mm lenses, photographed the shuttle's heat shield to help engineers assess its health before re-entry.

After the flip maneuver, Sturckow flew Discovery in an arc up to a point about 400 feet directly in front of the station. From there, he manually guided the spaceplane in for docking.

"With the verniers, you have finer control with the smaller jets, you could tell he had to fly it a little bit different," said lead Flight Director Tony Ceccacci. "For one instance, it would add more closing rate in and he'd have to brake to make sure his closing rates weren't too high. In other situations, he had to add closing rate.

"So it was just a little bit more complicated as far as where he had to do these different tasks and such than he would if he had verniers. Again, the crew has trained this. Yesterday, we had a discussion with C.J., what the critical points were, and he just flew it like a champ today."

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: SUNDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF RENDEZVOUS AND DOCKING PLAY
VIDEO: THE MOON SINKS BELOW TAIL OF DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS' HOME MOVIES: DAY 2 PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS' HOME MOVIES: DAY 1 PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY NIGHT'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF SHUTTLE INSPECTIONS PLAY

VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: INSIDE MISSION CONTROL ROOM PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VAB ROOF PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD PERIMETER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAEMRA 070 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAEMRA 071 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 TRACKER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PLAYALINDA BEACH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD FRONT CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: THE FULL LAUNCH EXPERIENCE PLAY
VIDEO: LIFTOFF OF SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY! PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: COMMANDER RICK STURCKOW BOARDS DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: PILOT KEVIN FORD BOARDS SHUTTLE DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST PAT FORRESTER BOARDS DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST JOSE HERNANDEZ BOARDS SHUTTLE PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST DANNY OLIVAS BOARDS DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST CHRISTER FUGLESANG BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST NICOLE STOTT BOARDS DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS LEAVE CREW QUARTERS BUILDING PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW FINISHES GETTING SUITED UP PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: NARRATED MISSION OVERVIEW MOVIE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MEET SHUTTLE DISCOVERY'S ASTRONAUTS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF SHUTTLE'S PREPARATIONS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF PAYLOADS' PREPARATIONS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE "COLBERT" TREADMILL PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: MANAGERS EXPLAIN REASON FOR SECOND SCRUB PLAY
VIDEO: WEATHER SCRUBS FIRST COUNTDOWN PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS DEPART QUARTERS FOR PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW GETS SUITED UP FOR LAUNCH ATTEMPT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH PAD SERVICE GANTRY ROLLED BACK PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH RICK STURCKOW PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN FORD PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH PAT FORRESTER PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH JOSE HERNANDEZ PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH DANNY OLIVAS PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTER FUGLESANG PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH NICOLE STOTT PLAY

VIDEO: AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: THE LAUNCH COUNTDOWN GETS UNDERWAY PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE AT THE CAPE FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW SETS LAUNCH DATE PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-128 MISSION OVERVIEW BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE PROGRAM MANAGER EXPLAINS FOAM ISSUES PLAY

VIDEO: PAYLOAD BAY DOORS CLOSED FOR FLIGHT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MISSION CARGO LOADED ABOARD DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: CREW TOURS PAD'S CLEANROOM PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE EVACUATION PRACTICE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS BOARD DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE LAUNCH DAY SIMULATION BEGINS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: PAD BUNKER TRAINING FOR THE CREW PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW BRIEFED ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NIGHTTIME APPROACHES IN TRAINING AIRCRAFT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TEST-DRIVING EMERGENCY ARMORED TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: INFORMAL CREW NEWS CONFERENCE AT LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR PRACTICE COUNTDOWN PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE DISCOVERY ROLLS OUT PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER HOISTED FOR MATING TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY MOVED TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF DISCOVERY ARRIVING IN VAB PLAY

VIDEO: PAYLOADS DELIVERED TO LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LEONARDO PUT INTO TRANSPORTER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: STATION'S NEW AMMONIA TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MPLM HATCH CLOSED FOR FLIGHT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: INSIDE SHUTTLE MAIN ENGINE SHOP PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW EQUIPMENT INTERFACE TEST PLAY | HI-DEF
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