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The Mission




Orbiter: Discovery
Mission: STS-133
Payload: Leonardo
Launch: Feb. 24, 2011
Time: 4:53 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: March 9 @
11:57 a.m. EST
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility

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Cdr Steve Lindsey

Pilot Eric Boe

MS 1 Al Drew

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MS 4 Nicole Stott







Discovery pulls into port for her final space station visit
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: February 26, 2011


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The shuttle Discovery glided to a picture-perfect docking with the International Space Station Saturday, the veteran spaceplane's 13th and final linkup with the orbiting outpost.


Credit: Spaceflight Now/NASA
 
With commander Steven LIndsey manually flying Discovery from the aft flight deck, the shuttle's payload bay docking system engaged its counterpart on the front end of the station's Harmony module at 2:14 p.m. EST (GMT-5).

"Station and Houston, Discovery has capture confirmed," an astronaut radioed.

The historic linkup marked the first time in the station's 12-year history that spacecraft from the United States, Russia, the European Space Agency and Japan were docked at the outpost at the same time.

Later in the mission, if all goes well and mission managers concur, three station crew members will undock in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to photograph the lab complex and all the visiting vehicles from afar, capturing a unique moment that, with the shuttle's looming retirement, will never be repeated.

But first, the combined crews have to complete the primary objectives of Discovery's mission, including attachment of a final U.S. module, loaded with critical supplies and equipment, and an external storage platform carrying a spare set of radiator panels.

With the shuttle attached to the station, and with all of the visiting vehicles attached, the combined shuttle-station complex masses some 1.2 million pounds. It took longer than usual for relative motion between the two spacecraft to damp out, allowing the docking mechanism to firmly lock the shuttle in place, but it wasn't immediately clear if that was due to the mass of the vehicles or some other factor.

Running about 45 minutes later than planned, a final hatch between Discovery and the station was opened at 4:16 p.m. and 20 minutes after that, Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri, Oleg Skripochka, Dmitry Kondratyev, Catherine Coleman and Paolo Nespoli welcomed Lindsey and his shuttle crewmates -- pilot Eric Boe, Al Drew, Stephen Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott -- into the space station.

After a mandatory safety briefing, Bowen and Drew moved their spacesuits and tools into the station's Quest airlock in preparation for a pair of spacewalks Monday and Wednesday.

Barratt and Stott, meanwhile, used the station's robot arm to pull external logistics carrier No. 4, carrying a spare set of radiators for the station's ammonia coolant system, out of its mount in the shuttle's payload bay.

The goal of the operation was to attach ELC-4 to capture fittings on the underside of the station's right-side solar power truss. To get it there, Barratt and Stott first had to hand the pallet off to the shuttle's robot arm, operated by Boe and Drew.

The station arm then was repositioned, inchworm fashion, moving from the Harmony module to its mobile base work station. When the move was complete, the shuttle arm handed ELC-4 back to the station arm and the pallet was slowly moved into position for attachment to the solar power truss for future use as needed.

Because it took longer than expected to complete the docking procedure, the pallet work was not completed until 10:12 p.m., well behind schedule. But the astronauts, given the option to defer installation to Sunday, opted to press ahead.

"It was really very impressive, working from the cupola and watching how the arms worked together and getting ELC berthed to the truss," Stott radioed.

"Thanks for those words, Nicole, and you guys rock," Stan Love replied from the space station control room in Houston. "It was wonderful watching you from here."

The ELC move capped a busy day in space. Lindsey and Boe began the terminal phase of the rendezvous at 11:33 a.m. with a rocket firing to begin closing the final 9.2 miles to the station.

Just after 1 p.m. with the shuttle poised 600 feet directly below the lab complex, Lindsey guided Discovery through a routine-but-still-spectacular end-over-end backflip maneuver, allowing the station crew to photograph the orbiter's heat shield.

Working in the Russian Zvezda command module, Coleman and Nespoli photographed Discovery's heat shield, using 400 mm and 800 mm telephoto lenses respectively, as the orbiter flipped about. The images will be downlinked to analysts in mission control at the Johnson Space Center for detailed evaluation.

During Discovery's launching Thursday, several pieces of foam insulation fell away from the ship's external tank, including some that appeared to contact the shuttle's heat shield. The foam shedding occurred well after the first two minutes and 15 seconds of flight when the dense lower atmosphere can cause debris to hit with a high relative velocity.

Engineers do not believe the foam lost Thursday caused any significant damage and nothing out of the ordinary could be seen in television views of the maneuver. But the photos taken by Coleman and Nespoli will be carefully scrutinized to make sure.

It took about 10 minutes to complete the rendezvous pitch maneuver. After that, Lindsey began moving Discovery in an arc up to a point about 300 feet directly in front of the space station with the shuttle's nose pointed toward deep space and its open payload bay facing the front end of the lab complex.

From there, Lindsey guided Discovery in to a docking at pressurize mating adapter No. 2 on the front end of the station's Harmony module.

"What took you guys so long?" Kelly joked earlier during an initial radio hookup.

"Yeah, I don't know, we kind of waited until like the last two seconds," Lindsey replied, referring to Discovery's launch Thursday in the final seconds of its window. "But it's good to hear your voice, Scott, you guys look great. We're on our way."

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE CREW WELCOMED ABOARD STATION PLAY
VIDEO: DOCKING OF SHUTTLE TO STATION AS SEEN LIVE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ARCS OUT IN FRONT OF SPACE STATION PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY PERFORMS THE 360-DEGREE BACKFLIP PLAY
VIDEO: BEAUTIFUL VIEWS OF SHUTTLE DURING RENDEZVOUS PLAY
VIDEO: SPACECRAFT COMMANDERS TALK FROM AFAR PLAY
VIDEO: TERMINAL INITIATION BURN SEEN FROM STATION PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF DISCOVERY MANEUVERING PLAY
VIDEO: ANIMATED EXPLANATION OF ELC NO. 4 INSTALL PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF THE DOCKING PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GUIDED TOUR OF SHUTTLE'S PAYLOAD BAY PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: FRIDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED PREVIEW OF FLIGHT DAY 2 ACTIVITIES PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: PAYLOAD BAY DOORS OPENED IN SPACE PLAY

VIDEO: THE FULL STS-133 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE DISCOVERY BLASTS OFF! PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GO INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: EXTERNAL TANK CAMERA: LIFTOFF TO ORBIT PLAY
VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS AROUND THE CAPE PLAY | HI-DEF

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 CAMERA 070 PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PAD CAMERA 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: WEST TOWER CAMERA PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS LEAVE CREW QUARTERS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW FINISHES GETTING SUITED UP PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: LOOK BACK AT THE LAUNCH DELAYS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF SHUTTLE'S PREPARATIONS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF PAYLOADS' PREPARATIONS PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF PAD GANTRY ROLLBACK PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH PAD GANTRY ROLLED BACK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: INSIDE CONTROL ROOM WHEN COUNT STARTED PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: UNIQUE VIEWS OF SHUTTLE ON THE PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S COUNTDOWN IS UNDERWAY PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH COUNTDOWN PREVIEW AND WEATHER FORECAST PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE AT LAUNCH SITE AGAIN PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY CLEARED FOR LAUNCH ON FEB. 24 PLAY

VIDEO: STEVE BOWEN BEGINS CREW TRAINING PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: SUN RISES OVER SPACEPORT AFTER ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ARRIVES ATOP LAUNCH PAD 39A AGAIN PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CROWDS CHEER ON DISCOVERY'S ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY RE-EMERGES FROM THE VAB PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH TEAM PRACTICES PROCEDURES PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: FRESH FOAM APPLIED TO EXTERNAL TANK PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: ROOT CAUSE OF SHUTTLE TANK CRACKS FOUND PLAY

VIDEO: REPAIRS AND STRENGTHENING TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DIGITAL X-RAY INSPECTIONS IN THE VAB PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: WORK UNDERWAY TO REMOVE FOAM AND SENSORS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SETTING UP ACCESS PLATFORMS AROUND TANK PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: SHUTTLE ROLLED BACK TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY DEPARTS LAUNCH PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LUNAR ECLIPSE OVER DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FUELING TEST PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: RECAP OF THE FUELING EXERCISE PLAY
VIDEO: FUELING TEST COUNTDOWN UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: COMMENTS FROM SHUTTLE LAUNCH DIRECTOR PLAY
VIDEO: GROUND UMBILICAL CARRIER PLATE CHECKED PLAY
VIDEO: INFO ON EXTERNAL TANK INSTRUMENTATION PLAY
VIDEO: DETAILED INFORMATION ON SPECIAL FUELING TEST PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE DISCOVERY'S LAUNCH DELAYED TO FEBRUARY PLAY

VIDEO: FINAL PREPS FOR INSTRUMENTED TEST PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: STRAIN GAUGES ATTACHED TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: BACKSCATTER INSPECTIONS OF TANK MIDSECTION PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: INSTALLING DOUBLERS OVER STRINGERS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GASEOUS HYDROGEN VENT ARM RETURNED PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DOUBLERS TO BEEF UP CRACKED BEAMS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: HYDROGEN FITTING IS REINSTALLED PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: OPENING UP TANK'S ENTRANCE DOOR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: GUCP DETACHED AND SEALS REMOVED PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: BROKEN FOAM REMOVED FROM THE TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: VENT ARM LETS GO FROM LEAKY GUCP PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY AWAITS REPAIRS TO TANK PROBLEMS PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: INFORMATIVE DESCRIPTION OF TANK CRACK PROBLEM PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S LAUNCH DELAYED TO MID-DECEMBER PLAY

VIDEO: GASEOUS HYDROGEN VENT ARM DETACHED FROM SHUTTLE PLAY

VIDEO: STS-133 MISSION PREVIEW MOVIE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE DISCOVERY CREW BIOGRAPHIES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ISS EXPEDITION 25-26 PREVIEW MOVIE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SPACE STATION CREW BIOGRAPHIES PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: POST-SCRUB NEWS BRIEFING ON LEAK PLAY
VIDEO: GASEOUS HYDROGEN LEAK SCRUBS LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: BAD WEATHER DELAYS DISCOVERY LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: ELECTRICAL ISSUE NO LONGER A CONCERN FOR DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH POSTPONED BY ELECTRICAL CONCERN PLAY
VIDEO: TUESDAY MORNING'S COUNTDOWN STATUS CHECK PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: COUNTDOWN PREVIEW BRIEFING AND WEATHER FORECAST PLAY
VIDEO: ANOTHER 24-HOUR DELAY ORDERED TO FINISH REPAIRS PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH DELAYED 24 HOURS BY LEAK REPAIRS PLAY

VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW SETS LAUNCH DATE PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-133 MISSION OVERVIEW PRESENTATIONS PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: IN-DEPTH BACKGROUND ON ROBONAUT 2 HUMANOID PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: PAYLOAD BAY DOORS CLOSED FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW LEAVES KSC FOR TRIP TO HOUSTON PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS INSPECT THE PAYLOAD BAY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE EVACUATION PRACTICE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS EGRESS SHUTTLE AS SEEN LIVE PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS BOARD DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SUN RISES ON LAUNCH PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH DAY REHEARSAL BEGINS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: COMMEMORATIVE WALL SIGNING IN VAB PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW BRIEFED ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: IN SHUTTLE TRAINING AIRCRAFT'S COCKPIT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TEST-DRIVING AN EMERGENCY ARMORED TANK PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH STEVE LINDSEY PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH ERIC BOE PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH AL DREW PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH TIM KOPRA PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH MIKE BARRATT PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH NICOLE STOTT PLAY

VIDEO: PAYLOADS INSTALLED INTO DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MISSION PAYLOADS ARRIVE AT LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CANISTER HAULING PAYLOADS TURNED UPRIGHT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MODULE HOISTED INTO SHIPPING CANISTER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: WEIGHING NEW SPACE STATION MODULE PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: GANTRY PLACED AROUND DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ATLANTIS REACHES PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CROWDS WATCH DISCOVERY'S FINAL ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: SHUTTLE HOISTED FOR ATTACHMENT TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CRANE ROTATES THE ORBITER VERTICALLY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY DEPARTS ITS HANGAR PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE SHOWS DISCOVERY ASCENDING IN VAB PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE SHOWS THE MOVE TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY

VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S MAIDEN FLIGHT: FIRST TRIP TO VAB PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S MAIDEN FLIGHT: ROLLOUT TO PAD 39A PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S MAIDEN FLIGHT: TEST-FIRING ENGINES PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S MAIDEN FLIGHT: ASSORTED VIEWS OF FRF PLAY

VIDEO: THE HISTORY OF SHUTTLE DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: THE HISTORY OF SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR PLAY
VIDEO: THE HISTORY OF SHUTTLE ATLANTIS PLAY

VIDEO: INSPECTION OF THE MISSION PAYLOADS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ROBONAUT ARRIVES AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SPACE STATION'S SPARE THERMAL RADIATOR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: BLANKETING LEONARDO WITH INSULATION PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: RACK INSERTED INTO LEONARDO FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LEONARDO RETURNS FROM ITS PREVIOUS FLIGHT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: STATION'S SPARE PARTS DEPOT ARRIVES PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: ORBITER'S PAYLOAD BAY CLOSED FOR ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS VISIT THEIR SPACECRAFT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW INSPECTS LEONARDO MODULE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY RECEIVES ITS MAIN ENGINES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: FUEL TANK MATED TO SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: HOISTING FUEL TANK INTO CHECKOUT BAY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: EXTERNAL FUEL TANK UNLOADED FROM BARGE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MISSION'S FUEL TANK ARRIVES AT SPACEPORT PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: POST-FLIGHT DESERVICING: OMS POD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: POST-FLIGHT DESERVICING: OBSS BOOM PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: POST-FLIGHT DESERVICING: ENGINES PLAY | HI-DEF
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