With their time together drawing to a close, the crews of Discovery and the International Space Station today plan to detach the Leonardo cargo module from the station and latch it back aboard the shuttle for return to Earth.
Almost five tons of equipment and experiments were unloaded from Leonardo during the six days it was attached to the station, and almost a ton of trash, unneeded equipment and items that accompany the returning station crew was loaded aboard. The module is planned to be detached from the station just before midnight Sunday and loaded in Discovery’s cargo bay about an hour later.
Flight controllers cleared about three hours of time for Commander Jim Wetherbee and Pilot Jim Kelly aboard Discovery this evening in the event some troubleshooting steps were required with the onboard shuttle flight control computers. Two of the four primary computers were turned on quickly yesterday at the request of Mission Control as part of a general power up to increase the heat being generated by shuttle electronics. The shuttle’s cooling system had gotten too cold, causing ice to form in a water line, and controllers needed several more electronics powered on to warm up the cooling system. These electronics normally are off when the shuttle is docked to the station. The procedure worked, and the cooling system quickly returned to normal.
However, while the crew slept Saturday, flight controllers spent the day evaluating whether the quick power up could cause a software glitch onboard. At no time, however, did the onboard computers experience a problem. Still, an extensive analysis was conducted to double-check the system and a decision was made to transition the software loads within the flight computers as a confidence test to ensure they are fully operational.
Meanwhile, all other timelined activities for both the shuttle and station crews continues as the final day of joint operations draws near. Both spacecraft are in excellent shape orbiting 235 statute miles above the Earth, traveling around the globe every 92 minutes. The next mission status report will be issued Sunday morning.
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