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Discovery's payloads getting packed up for

Posted: September 27, 2010

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The Express Logistics Carrier No. 4 for the International Space Station was loaded into the transportation canister at Kennedy Space Center this morning, bound for shipment to launch pad 39A.

The ELC will be trucked to orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery and robotically installed onto the station's exterior.

This pallet-like structure holds a spare thermal radiator, folded up in accordion fashion. If one of the station's existing radiators needs replacing in the future, this spare will be available for astronauts to use.

The flip-side of the ELC features several attachment fixtures to accommodate on-orbit equipment stowage.

Discovery's other passenger is the Permanent Multipurpose Module. The PMM is the reusable Leonardo cargo van that's been retrofitted to remain affixed to the space station.

The module has been packed with supplies and hardware for delivery to the station. Ground technicians plan to hoist PMM into the transportation canister on Wednesday.

The canister is shaped like the 60-foot-long shuttle payload bay. After leaving KSC's Space Station Processing Facility on Thursday, it will be moved to the nearby rotation facility to be turned vertical to stand upright.

The trek to launch pad 39A is now targeted for 12:01 a.m. EDT on October 6, a day earlier than originally envisioned.

Cranes will lift the canister up the pad's service gantry for unloading of PMM and ELC into cleanroom compartment. Once that is completed, the canister will be lowered away and the gantry swung back into position against the shuttle for insertion of the payloads into Discovery.