Orbiter: Discovery
Mission: STS-131
Payload: Leonardo
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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By Justin Ray

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.
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Check out the revised flight plan for Discovery's astronauts that now includes the extra day added to the mission.
1625 GMT (12:25 p.m. EDT)
EXPRESS Rack No. 7, an assembly to hold multi-purpose scientific experiments aboard the International Space Station has been installed by Japanese astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Naoko Yamazaki.
1540 GMT (11:40 a.m. EDT)
The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. E) can be downloaded here.
1335 GMT (9:35 a.m. EDT)
Spacewalkers Rick Mastracchio and Clay Anderson, along with robot arm operator Stephanie Wilson, fielded questions from reporters early Saturday, taking a few moments to discuss the crew's upcoming spacewalks, a "space summit" next week and the 40th anniversary of Apollo 13. Here is the conversation with CBS Radio's Peter King and space consultant William Harwood.

Read our full story.
0900 GMT (5:00 a.m. EDT)
Discovery mission specialist Naoko Yamazaki, an astronaut from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, serves as the "load master" during the flight to oversee the transfer of items from Leonardo.

"Load master seems to be a challenging job," she said in a pre-flight interview. "The transfer activities will take about more than 120 hours, so it is very challenging to orchestrate all the activities in order. Some hardware has constraints, so some hardware needs to be transferred in certain order and in a certain way. So I need to understand the hardware very well.

"It's like moving into a new house. Some items needs to be treated very carefully and some items need to be transferred in a certain order. I believe it will go well with all my great crew members' help."
0540 GMT (1:40 a.m. EDT)
The Window Observational Research Facility is being installed into the U.S. Destiny laboratory module, having just been unloaded from Leonardo. WORF is designed to assist in studying our home planet's climate, land masses and seas, crop and weather damage, and testing new sensor technologies.

WORF is just one of 16 racks carried to orbit inside the Leonardo cargo module. The astronauts unpacked five racks on Friday morning, including the Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, or MARES, a crew quarters compartment, the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS, or MELFI, plus two stowage racks.
0535 GMT (1:35 a.m. EDT)
Expedition 23 commander Oleg Kotov said he was cleaning a filter inside Zvezda at the time of the smoke alarm. Perhaps dust in the air triggered the warning.
0531 GMT (1:31 a.m. EDT)
The crew and Houston confirm that the smoke detector alarm was false.
0528 GMT (1:28 a.m. EDT)
The space station resident T.J. Creamer says it appears to be a false alarm.
0526 GMT (1:26 a.m. EDT)
The seven shuttle astronauts are making their way into Discovery.
0525 GMT (1:25 a.m. EDT)
The alarm came from the Russian Zvezda service module, Mission Control says.
0524 GMT (1:24 a.m. EDT)
A smoke alarm has sounded inside the International Space Station. The astronauts are going to into their precautionary emergency procedures.
0510 GMT (1:10 a.m. EDT)
Discovery astronauts Jim Dutton and Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger just finished repositioning shuttle's robotic arm to use its cameras for observing Sunday morning's spacewalk activities.

Meanwhile, Rick Mastracchio is inside the Quest airlock working to recharge the suit batteries for tomorrow's spacewalk.

The other astronauts continue busily transferring items and bags and equipment out of Leonardo into the International Space Station.
0220 GMT (10:20 p.m. EDT Fri.)
The Discovery astronauts and their space station colleagues face a full "day" of work overnight Friday and early Saturday to transfer supplies and equipment from the Leonardo cargo module to the International Space Station.

Read our full story.
0122 GMT (9:22 p.m. EDT Fri.)
Bon Jovi was the wakeup music for the shuttle astronauts to begin Flight Day 6, which is dedicated almost solely to transferring equipment out of the Leonardo module and Discovery's middeck. And then late in the day, the crew will turn its attention to preparing for Sunday morning's spacewalk.
The shuttle Discovery's mission to the International Space Station has been extended one day to give the astronauts more time to conduct a final heat shield inspection while docked to the lab complex. Landing is now expected on April 19.

Read our full story.
2305 GMT (7:05 p.m. EDT)
International Space Station flight director Ed Van Cise explains the decision to extend Discovery's mission one day:

"The Mission Management Team elected to add a day to the mission. The reason for that goes all the way to Flight Day 1 and Flight Day 2 when the space shuttle Ku-band system was determined not to be operating. We have flight rules that say if the Ku-band is not operational we need to an inspection of the orbiter while it is still docked to the space station. We call it late inspection.

"When the Ku-band system is working, they will actually do that late inspection after they have undocked and that will clear the thermal protection system for entry. Since we need to use the ISS Ku-band system to downlink all those files and the video, obviously we need to do that before they have undocked.

"So we needed to have the time to perform those inspections. We could either do that with our 13-day mission at the expense of some of the other mission objectives we already had planned, including all of this transfer, or we could add a day to the mission. And since we were carrying some contingency time we could add that extra day and make it a 14-day mission so that we could spend an extra day to go do that late inspection while we are docked."

He also said that one previous mission did its "late inspections" while docked. Endeavour's STS-123 flight in early 2008 then left the inspection boom attached to the station because the subsequent mission, Discovery's STS-124, couldn't launch with a boom in its payload bay due to the large Kibo laboratory it was carrying to the station.
2250 GMT (6:50 p.m. EDT)
MISSION EXTENDED. As expected, space shuttle Discovery's mission will be extended an additional day. The bonus time will enable the astronauts to perform the "late inspection" procedures prior to undocking and downlink that data via the International Space Station's Ku-band antenna system.

The shuttle's Ku-band antenna failed when it was activated right after launch on Monday. The problem prevents the shuttle from using that high data rate system to transmit the inspection data to analysts on the ground.

The "late inspection" normally occurs after the shuttle departs the space station. But the antenna problem has prompted a replanning of Discovery's mission. The inspections will scan the shuttle's wing leading edges and nose cap to look for space debris or micrometeoroid impacts that could have occurred during the mission.

The extra day allows the crew to finish all of their planned activities at the station, then conduct the inspections.

Landing at the Kennedy Space Center is targeted for about 9 a.m. EDT on April 19.

Read our earlier status center coverage.

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The astronauts launching on Discovery: Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, pilot James Dutton, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, commander Alan Poindexter, Naoko Yamazaki of Japan, and Clayton Anderson.

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.