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  STS-124: Discovery carries Hope for a new era (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   STS-124: Discovery carries Hope for a new era
Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-08-2008 07:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day 9

Buzz Lightyear is no longer the only Disney character to make a cameo during the STS-124 mission: 'M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E' made an appearance in the form of the theme song to the Mickey Mouse Club, broadcast as the wake up call for the crew.

Spacewalkers Mike Fossum and Ron Garan will leave the station's Quest airlock today for the third time this mission. The EVA is scheduled to begin at 9:32 a.m. CDT.

During the two previous spacewalks Fossum and Garan outfitted Japan's Kibo module and performed station maintenance tasks. Today, they will replace a nitrogen tank assembly, install TV equipment and remove a thermal cover from Japan's new robotic arm.

Fossum will also revisit the port-side solar alpha array joint (SARJ) where he reported seeing some minor particulate during the second spacewalk. He will collect some of the debris to return to Earth to help with the on-going studies as to the malfunctioning SARJ on the starboard-side of the station.

JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide will activate Kibo's robotic arm monitor for camera support as the spacewalkers work outside the station. Hoshide and Karen Nyberg will also assist Fossum and Garan with Canadarm2, the station's main robotic arm.

After the spacewalk, Hoshide and Nyberg will continue outfitting the vestibule inside Kibo's pressurized logistics module. They will also deploy and maneuver Japan's robotic arm to its stowed position.

Robert Pearlman
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Today's spacewalk, the last of three for the STS-124 mission, began at 8:55 a.m. CDT, approximately 35 minutes earlier than scheduled. EV1 Mike Fossum, wearing an EMU with red stripes, and EV2 Ron Garan, with no stripes, began their EVA as the station flew 214 miles over the South Pacific.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-08-2008 10:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Overheard during the spacewalk, as Garan rode the end of the station arm, transferring a nitrogen tank assembly from the S1 to P3 truss, during orbital nighttime.

"Well, there are the stars," said Garan.

"Yep, one of my mission objectives is met," replied Fossum. "I was talking at a school and I had a young man ask me if you could see the stars while you were outside. I told him I never had the chance to turn my lights out and look.

"Indeed, you can."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-08-2008 03:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today's spacewalk came to an end at 3:28 p.m. CDT for a duration of 6 hours and 33 minutes. During the EVA, Mike Fossum and Ron Garan:
  • ...installed a new Nitrogen Tank Assembly (NTA) on the right hand S1 truss. Garan, perched atop the station's robotic arm, soared about 80 feet above the station complex in what had been called the "windshield wiper maneuver." First, Garan detached a spent NTA from the starboard S1 truss and rode the arm across to the left P3 truss. There, he exchanged the 528-pound assembly with a new one that Mike Fossum prepared for him. Arm operator Karen Nyberg then flew Garan back across the top of the station to the S1 truss, where Garan attached the new unit in place of the old one.

  • ...removed a thermal cover from the port solar alpha rotary joint (SARJ) and collected two samples of dust-like debris. The port SARJ continues to perform well, but the composition of the debris is unknown, so Fossum will return it to Earth for analysis.

  • ...removed thermal insulation from the Kibo robotic arm's wrist and elbow cameras, and launch locks from one of the forward Kibo windows. Fossum also deployed debris shields over Kibo common berthing mechanisms that currently are not used. He tightened a bolt holding a Kibo television camera in place. Japanese flight controllers had noticed unexpected movement of the camera.

  • ...reinstalled a space station television camera to the left P1 truss. The faulty camera had been removed during Thursday's second spacewalk. On Saturday, astronauts replaced its power supply to prepare it for today's reinstallation. At 2:10 p.m. CDT, Mission Control verified the repair by downlinking video of Garan from the camera.

  • ...installed thermal covers over connectors outside the Harmony node.

  • ...transferred an ingress aid to a portable foot restraint on the airlock toolbox.

  • ...removed launch restraints from the starboard SARJ.
This was Fossum's sixth career EVA and Garan's third. This was the 112th spacewalk towards ISS assembly, the 197th U.S. spacewalk in history and the third of three spacewalks planned for the STS-124 crew, bringing the total EVA time for the mission to 20 hours and 32 minutes.

Paul78zephyr
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posted 06-08-2008 09:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
If required, the usual detailed inspection of the heat shield will be performed later in the mission after the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) has been returned to Discovery.
Has it been determined by the preliminary inspection if the detailed inspection of the TPS will be required? Or did I misread?

Paul

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-08-2008 09:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The imagery gathered during the rendezvous pitch maneuver (or "backflip") before docking was sufficient to waive the need for close inspections using the OBSS. There were a few tiles damaged but nothing of any concern. Mission management team chair LeRoy Cain was hesitant to call it the cleanest orbiter yet but said if it wasn't, it tied for the title.

The STS-124 crew will still perform an inspection after undocking from the station to look for micrometeorite debris damage.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-09-2008 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day 10

Mike Fossum, a proud alum ("Aggie") of Texas A&M University, was greeted this morning by the sounds of the Fightin' Texas Aggie Band playing "The Spirit of Aggieland".

"There's a spirit can never be told, that's the spirit of Aggieland. Texas A&M University is indeed a very special place. Thanks to my Aggie wife this morning for that wake-up music, to all my Aggie buds, and to the hundreds of thousands of Aggies on campus and around the world. It's going to be a great day."

The crew members today will maneuver the newly activated robotic arm on the Kibo laboratory to its stowed position. They will also perform a checkout of the arm's brakes.

Station and shuttle crew members will work in the Quest airlock to replace the battery charger modules that provide power to U.S. spacesuits during spacewalks. Flight managers elected to replace the modules as the devices have shown increased toxicity levels due to their age.

The astronauts are scheduled to take a break from their activities at 4:02 p.m. CDT for a joint crew news conference.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-09-2008 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-09-2008 11:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Seen here, a small tab of insulation material that apparently ripped loose of the Japanese robotic arm during its trial run this morning. Nothing will be done now about the tear, as it poses no risk to the arm and can be repaired during a future EVA.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-09-2008 05:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Expedition 17 and STS-124 crews gathered together in the Kibo Japanese Pressurized Module aboard the International Space Station to answer questions from American and Japanese reporters at the Johnson and Kennedy space centers.

During the news conference, collectSPACE asked ISS Flight Engineer Greg Chamitoff about the lessons to be learned from a visiting space ranger.

Once Discovery pulls away, it will just be you, Sergei, Oleg... and Buzz Lightyear. NASA and Disney has said that Buzz might even take part in an experiment with you. For all the kids (of all ages) who may be watching, what do you hope they learn from Buzz's flight and from watching you work on the ISS?

I think what we are doing up here is really fulfilling the future of exploration by living off the planet. What really struck me by coming here is that we're not a small operation. This is a big space station. We have four different ships visiting us right now at all different docking ports. It is amazing what is going on up here and we all know this is just the beginning. So I think there is going to be a lot of exciting times ahead for the kids as they grow up in the future.
Continuing on the theme of capturing what it is like to be in space, we then asked spacewalker Mike Fossum about how close advancements in broadcast technology can bring the public to experiencing his view from space.

Yesterday, we heard during the EVA you comment about looking at the stars and the spectacular views below. Last night, American audiences saw what was for some of them the first time archival space program footage shown in high definition. And you've been broadcasting HDTV from the space station as well. For years, we have been told that the imagery does not compare to what it is actually like out the window or the helmet. How close does HDTV come?

I think HDTV is a step closer but you still don't have the three dimensions when you are here, looking through the windows here and certainly when you are outside with your head in a fish bowl. You really have the feeling you are in the middle of it. You are not just looking at a picture of it or an image of it. Maybe it is just more feel than real visual. I can't get any closer than that.
(At the end of the event, at commander Mark Kelly's cue, the astronauts ascended in formation from the JPM into the newly-reopened Japanese Logistics Module above.)

divemaster
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posted 06-09-2008 09:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for divemaster   Click Here to Email divemaster     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
AND he avoided your Buzz Lightyear question!

I loved the way they ended the conference, though. Straight up.

It was pretty amazing seeing all ten people in Kibo. So much room! And there was even the sneaky Skylab reference, too!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-10-2008 07:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day 11

Ron Garan awoke today to "All Because of You" by U2.

"It's another beautiful day in space and it really is true that it is all because of you I am. And I want to thank my beautiful wife ad my sons for sending that song up and we're ready to get to work."

The station and shuttle crews will prepare today for the end of joint operations.

The astronauts will transfer spacewalk equipment and at least one spacesuit back to Discovery. They will enjoy some off-duty time and will also check out the tools and equipment needed for undocking activities.

At 2:57 p.m. CDT, the two crews will bid farewell to one another and close the hatches between the orbiter and the station.

Discovery is scheduled to undock from the ISS at 6:42 a.m. Wednesday and begin its journey back to Kennedy Space Center, landing on Saturday at 10:15 a.m.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-10-2008 08:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Some nice exterior station views as the crew continues their preparations inside:

Robert Pearlman
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The Expedition 17 and STS-124 crewmembers said goodbye to each other just after 3:00 p.m. CDT today, before separating into their respective spacecraft and shutting the hatches for tomorrow's undocking by space shuttle Discovery. Members of both crews made comments while surrounded by their fellow astronauts and cosmonauts.

We docked module JEM, the biggest module on the station and these guys performed wonderful EVAs. My crew is proud to be a participant and owner and holder of this station. We are glad to work with you guys. Thank you for these great ten days.

-- Sergei Volkov, ISS commander


It was great to arrive 10 days ago and it was a really exciting mission. We appreciate all the help we got from the crew of Expedition 17. It was really a joint effort with Sergei, Oleg, Garrett and Taz [Greg]. We appreciate everything. Now is the time to close the hatches shortly and bring Garrett home and leave Greg behind.

-- Mark Kelly, STS-124 commander


I can hardly believe this time has come. It has been an amazing adventure. I think all of us are very excited about the work we have done.

It is amazing how the station has changed in this time. You know, with 10 people up here going all over the place and doing this work and the thousands of others on the ground making it all possible, it is amazing to see what we can do.

Mark, I wanted to say that, you know, a lot of us were rookies before this flight. It has been a real honor and a real privilege to be part of the shuttle crew. Mark has not only made sure that this mission was very successful but he's also somehow guided us rookies through everything an got us to this point. He's been a great mentor to all of us. That goes for Mike, too.

Mike is the other flown person here before the shuttle launched and his guidance and his friendship has been really valuable to all of us. Thank you, Mike. It was really great when we arrived after the beginning of this amazing adventure, it was just amazing to be greeted by great friends that we already knew at the hatch. That was really, really amazing.

Garrett has been a great host for us, he has really helped us with everything and especially me, teaching me the ins and outs of everything on the station. I really appreciated that very much. Garrett has done an amazing job of taking care of this side of the space station, along with Sergei and Oleg, everything is in really great shape and he has done a really great job for NASA and for all the international partners.

It is really sad to see you guys go for me. But I am looking forward to the adventure ahead with Sergei and Oleg, getting the JEM up and running and getting the science program started and renewing the science on the U.S. module and in the Columbus. So, looking forward to that very much.

-- Greg Chamitoff, ISS Flight Engineer


Thanks Greg... one day this will all be yours and that day is now. It is a huge responsibility. I mean, taking care of this tremendous national asset and the international assets of our international partners. And if that ever feels like a huge burden, just remember this advice I have for you, which is, with great responsibility, also comes great power. (laughs) So that's nice. (laughs)

But you are going to do a fantastic job, you've took to it from a running start, you've been doing absolutely fantastic and you have some great crew mates to help you out, too. So you're going to do great.

For me this is a very satisfying moment right now, one I was looking forward to for a long time because we've managed to get to this point, through STS-123, Expedition 16, Expedition 17 and now STS-124, by far it was not a perfect performance by myself but I managed not, by any means, but I managed not to break anything really expensive. And I am leaving now with the station in good hands and with a tremendous feeling of satisfaction.

-- Garrett Reisman, returning STS-124 crew member

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day 12

Pilot Ken Ham and his crewmates aboard space shuttle Discovery were woken this morning to "Centerfield" by John Fogert.

Ham is scheduled to undock the orbiter from the ISS at 6:42 a.m. CDT, ending its almost nine-day stay at the outpost.

He will then perform a flyaround of the complex before conducting a final separation burn at approximately 8:30 a.m.

Two hours later, the shuttle crew will begin a 'late inspection' of their vehicle's heat shield, using the orbiter's robotic arm and boom (OBSS) to look for any damage that might have been caused by micrometeorite debris during their stay at the station.

Commander Mark Kelly is scheduled to land Discovery at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday.

Robert Pearlman
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Space shuttle Discovery undocked from the International Space Station at 6:42 a.m. CDT as both spacecraft flew over the South Pacific, east of Australia.

Just before separating, the shuttle's commander spoke to his former crewmate, now a member of the station's crew.

"We wish them the best with their expedition and we hope we left them a better, more capable space station than when we arrived," said STS-124 commander Mark Kelly, offering a Japanese goodbye in honor of delivering Japan's Kibo lab. "Sayonara."

"It was a great adventure with all of you. An adventure of a lifetime," replied ISS Expedition 17 flight engineer Greg Chamitoff, who arrived at the outpost aboard Discovery. "We wish you guys a terrific flight back, an awesome landing and look forward to seeing you on the ground."

"See you in six months," Kelly responded.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-11-2008 07:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Views taken from Discovery and the ISS during Ken Ham's flyaround of the station.

Robert Pearlman
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With the first of the two separation burns now completed (the second burn coming up in about 30 minutes), space shuttle Discovery will move about 40 nautical miles away from the ISS before the crew begins inspecting its heat shield for reentry on Saturday.

"Discovery departing after a successful mission to the International Space Station, leaving behind great memories and new 'hope', Kibo, for the future," radioed Greg Chamitoff while ringing the space station's bell.

"Thank you Alpha, it was great to spend some time with you guys there and we'll see you back on Earth," replied Discovery's commander Mark Kelly.

"Thanks Mark, it was terrific. The whole mission was really enjoyable for everybody. We're sad to see you guys go but we look forward to seeing you guys on the ground," said Chamitoff.

"Be safe," said Kelly.

"Thanks, I know that was a little later than expected but we got some great pictures of you guys, both overhead and below and some video. So, you'll see that as soon as you get back," concluded Chamitoff.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day 13

After yesterday's undocking from the International Space Station, the STS-124 crew begin their 13th flight day with a morning off.

"Good morning Discovery, and a special good morning today for Mark with "Crystal Frontier," said capcom Shannon Lucid, after starting the first call of the morning with the song by Calexico.

"Good morning. It's a really good morning in space. I would like to thank my wife - my wonderful wife, and my kids. Good morning," replied STS-124 commander Mark Kelly.

The astronauts aboard Discovery are scheduled to answer questions from ESPN and ABC News beginning at 12:33 p.m. CDT. When the interview is complete, the crew will stow the orbiter boom sensor system in the shuttle's payload bay. They will also power down the robotic arm in preparation for landing on Saturday.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-12-2008 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The following deorbit opportunities are for situational awareness and assume Kennedy Space Center (KSC) attempts only for Saturday, Edwards Air Force Base (EDW) as a back-up site for Sunday and all available sites for Monday; the final determination of the selection of landing sites for deorbit opportunities will be made by the Mission Management Team.

Deorbit Opportunities for STS-124 (all times are CDT) Updated: June 11, 2008

DateOrbitSiteTIGLanding
Sat., June 14217KSC9:10:17 a.m.10:15:18 a.m.
218KSC10:46:32 a.m.11:50:44 a.m.
Sun., June 15232KSC8:01 a.m.9:03 a.m.
233KSC9:36 a.m.10:38 a.m.
EDW11:06 a.m.12:09 p.m.
235EDW12:42 p.m.1:44 p.m.
Mon., June 16248KSC8:24 a.m.9:27 a.m.
249NOR9:56 a.m.10:59 a.m.
KSC10:00 a.m.11:02 a.m.
250EDW11:30 a.m.12:32 p.m.
NOR11:32 a.m.12:34 p.m.
251EDW1:06 p.m.2:07 p.m.
TIG = Time of Ignition for Deorbit Burn
KSC = Kennedy Space Center
EDW = Edwards Air Force Base
NOR - Northrup Flight Strip (White Sands)

Robert Pearlman
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Scenes from the STS-124 crew's interview with ESPN's Mike & Mike in the Morning, including pilot Ken Ham showing off some of their space food (shrimp cocktail and "Meat in Jelly").

Jay Chladek
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With tastey cosmonaut treats such as "Appetizing Appetizer" and "Meat in Jelly," no wonder a couple of Soviet individuals who defected to the US back in the 1970s (such as Viktor Belenko, MiG-25 pilot) got confused when they first encountered cans of pet food.

Great stuff to watch as always.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-12-2008 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With Discovery's heat shield all but formally cleared for reentry, the crew today stowed the orbiter boom and powered down the arm in preparation for landing on Saturday.

robsouth
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Can anyone tell me what time the shuttle is due to land in GMT please?

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day 14

The crew aboard space shuttle Discovery are spending today getting ready for their return home and the end of the STS-124 mission.

"Good morning Discovery, and a special good morning today for Garrett with "Baby, Won't You Please Come Home," radioed capcom Shannon Lucid to Garrett Reisman after playing the song by Louis Prima and Keely Smith.

"Good morning to you Houston and a special good morning to Simone, my favorite Earthling. Get ready dollface. Discovery's coming home!" replied Reisman, referring to his wife.

After completing a standard day before landing test of the shuttle steering jets, the crew indicated they had seen a one foot to 1.5 foot long rectangular object floating away from the shuttle from behind the rear portion of the right wing.

"It is not yet known what that object might be," said NASA commentator Rob Navias, adding that it was not uncommon for objects to drift out of payload bay during flight control systems checks.

Shortly afterward, the crew described what they called a "bump" on the left side trailing edge of Discovery's rudder.

"That protuberance is thought to be a very small piece of thermal insulation, perhaps part of the thermal barrier. No one, at the moment [is] concerned about that," said Navias.

Experts on the ground are examining images and video of the object and the "bump" while the crew continues to stow items in the cabin for Saturday's planned landing.

The astronauts will also set up the recumbent seat for Garrett Reisman, who served as Expedition 17 flight engineer for three months on the International Space Station. At 10:52 a.m. CDT, the crew will conduct interviews with CBS News, WCBS Radio and WINS Radio.

Robert Pearlman
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Crew photography of the "bump" and debris, provided to collectSPACE by a reader:

Robert Pearlman
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"We're confident this will be no impact to entry," radioed capcom Terry Virts to STS-124 commander Mark Kelly about the object and "bump" the crew saw and photographed earlier today. "First of all, the bump that you saw on the rudder speed brake we think is nominal. We compared it with preflight imagery and it looks exactly like it did preflight. I think the reason you could see it was that the rudder was kind of angled left after the FCS [flight control system] checkout a little bit but there is no issue with that."

"The other object that floated away turns out is a trailing edge split line barrier and thanks to those pictures you took, they were really good, the resolution was really good there, we were able to confirm it is that."

"That trailing edge split line barrier, it looks like a clip, its function is for ascent heating only and this is something we have seen ever since STS-1 orbiters have come back with this missing. It is just not a factor for entry."

"The [mission management team] is going to meet here shortly in the next couple of hours when they have all the data that they need, but like I said, we're confident there is no impact for entry and there will be no arm ops required. So, we are still pressing ahead for tomorrow morning."

A few moments later, Virts clarified his terminology. "I'm going to clarify the terms I used. The trailing edge split line barrier I was talking about? That is actually the bump that you saw on the rudder not the clip. Just to be clear about terminology."

"Going back to tomorrow's plan for entry, the weather is looking good. Right now, light winds is forecast in the morning. First opportunity looks better than the second just because of possibility of rain showers but right now it looks good. Obviously we will know more tomorrow," said Virts.

"Thanks for the quick turnaround and I guess thanks to Mike [Fossum], who is down on the middeck right now, for getting the good pictures," responded Kelly.

"Yeah, we'd like to thank him. Just looking at the pictures, if we didn't have those pictures we wouldn't have been able to give you this story, so that was nice," concluded Virts.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-13-2008 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by robsouth:
Can anyone tell me what time the shuttle is due to land in GMT please?
For the first landing opportunity (10:15 a.m. CDT), the time would be 1515 GMT. GMT is five hours ahead of Central Daylight Time used by this site.

Robert Pearlman
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The mission management team (MMT) has officially cleared Discovery for reentry.

Though its no longer considered an issue, as a final closeout to the topic, here are two pictures of the inconel spring seal (thermal barrier) that came loose and drifted away from Discovery's vertical stabilizer this morning. The first shows enhanced versions of the crew's photography; the second a photo of a similar seal on the ground.


Robert Pearlman
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Deorbit Timeline for the First KSC Landing Opportunity June 14
(all times are CDT)

5:12 a.m.Deorbit Prep begins
6:30 a.m.Payload Bay Door closing
6:40 a.m.Transition to Reentry Software (Ops 3)
7:45 a.m.Donning ACES flight suits
8:10 a.m.Seat ingress
8:23 a.m.OMS Gimbal Check
8:37 a.m.APU Prestart
8:52 a.m."Go-No Go" decision for deorbit burn
8:59 a.m.Maneuver for deorbit burn attitude
9:10 a.m.Deorbit burn
10:15 a.m.KSC landing

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 05:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day 15

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy alum and STS-124 commander Mark Kelly awoke today to the sounds of "A Life on the Ocean Wave," the school's official march.

"Want to thank the staff, midshipmen and alumni of the Merchant Marine Academy for sending that up to us. The mission's coming to an end, but it's going to be good to get home today," said Kelly.

Two landing opportunities are available for Discovery and the STS-124 crew to return to Earth today.

Discovery's first landing opportunity is at 10:15 a.m. CDT on orbit 217. If controllers elect to take it, commander Mark Kelly will perform the deorbit burn at 9:10 a.m. to begin the descent to the Kennedy Space Center. Orbit 218 provides a second opportunity at 11:50 a.m.

Spaceflight Meteorology Group is currently forecasting "virtually perfect" conditions down at the Cape for the first of the two opportunities today. There are a just a few clouds forecast at 3,000 feet, very light winds and a cross wind component of just six knots.

The only issue is sun glare, in which runway selection will ultimately be chosen.

The northwest to southeast Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility was originally thought to be the preferred approach, but that may change to Runway 33 in the opposite direction due to the prediction of some sun glare in Mark Kelly's window.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 06:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Capcom Terry Virts has informed the crew of Discovery that they are "go for payload bay door closing".

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 06:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ron Garan and Karen Nyberg have closed and latched the payload bay doors.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 06:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Commander Mark Kelly has been given the "go" to transition Discovery's flight deck to 'Ops 3' reentry software.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 07:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As originally planned, Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility has been selected for today's approach to the Kennedy Space Center.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 08:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With one hour remaining until the reentry burn, the crew is now suited in their ACES flight suits and getting seated for the ride home.

They will also begin "fluid loading" to help their transition back to gravity. Each crew member has a choice as to what they drink, as illustrated by the table below.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 08:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Go for the deorbit burn at 9:10 a.m.!

Commander Mark Kelly is maneuvering Discovery using its reaction control thrusters, rotating the orbiter into a backward-facing position so that the two orbital maneuvering system (OMS) engines will fire into the direction of travel.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 09:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Deorbit burn underway! Discovery is headed home to the Kennedy Space Center.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The two-minute, 34 second deorbit burn now complete, Discovery's velocity has been decreased by about 200 mph.

The orbiter will now be repositioned into a nose-first attitude for its approach into the atmosphere.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-14-2008 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
All three of Discovery's auxiliary power units (APUs) have been activated and are in good shape to support the reentry and landing.

Meanwhile, at Kennedy Space Center, a convoy of 40 specialized vehicles is slowly making its way to the Shuttle Landing Facility where they will be used to prepare and tow Discovery after touchdown to its orbiter processing facility.


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