April 16, 2010

Leonardo Returned To Discovery, Crew Prepares For Undocking

Space shuttle Discovery astronauts secured the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo in the cargo bay this morning, wrapping up its delayed move from the International Space Station.

Leonardo had spent the crew's night at the end of the station's Canadarm2 just above Discovery's payload bay after balky bolts delayed its departure from the orbiting laboratory's Harmony module. Mission Specialists Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki used the arm to cover the final feet of the first stage of Leonardo's trip home.

Mission Specialist Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger activated latches to secure Leonardo in the cargo bay at 2:15 a.m. CDT.

Next Wilson, Metcalf-Lindenburger and Discovery Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. teamed up to begin the late inspection of the shuttle's thermal protection system. Working in shifts with some help from Commander Alan G. Poindexter and Yamazaki, they used Discovery's robotic arm and the orbiter boom sensor system to look at reinforced carbon-carbon of the wing leading edges and the nose cone, as well as the heat-resistant tiles.

The inspection, scheduled for about seven hours, was finished almost three hours ahead of schedule. It was done while the shuttle was still docked so the images could be sent down by the station's high-data-rate system. Discovery's high-data-rate Ku band antenna is not working.

Discovery is scheduled to undock from the station a little before 8 a.m. on Saturday. The first landing opportunity at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is at 7:48 a.m. on Monday.


Image Caption: In the grasp of the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm, the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module is placed back in space shuttle Discovery's payload bay. Image credit: NASA


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