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  STS-119: Discovery delivers 'full power' to ISS [Flight Day Journal] (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   STS-119: Discovery delivers 'full power' to ISS [Flight Day Journal]
Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-25-2009 01:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hatches closed (con't)

The hatches separating the International Space Station and Discovery were closed with the final door latched at just before 1 p.m. CDT, ending seven days, 18 hours and 39 minutes of joint crew operations.

"The Node 2 forward hatch is now closed," reported ISS Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke.

Discovery remains on schedule to undock from the space station at 2:53 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-25-2009 02:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery departing

Space shuttle Discovery departed from the International Space Station at 2:53 p.m. CDT, having delivered the final segment of the outpost's backbone and the last two of eight power-providing solar array wings.

"Houston and Alpha, physical separation," STS-119 commander Lee Archambault reported as the shuttle backed away from the station, ending seven days, 22 hours and 34 minutes of docked operations.

"Space shuttle Discovery departing," announced Koichi Wakata as he rang a bell from aboard the station, continuing a tradition started by the first ISS commander, Navy SEAL William Shepherd.

Wakata, who is now serving as Japan's first long duration crew member, arrived at the station with Discovery. He traded places with Sandy Magnus, who is returning to Earth on the shuttle after 137 days in orbit.

"Godspeed, thanks for making us symmetrical, giving us full power and all the other wonderful things you did for us, you did a great work, come again," station commander Mike Fincke radioed as the distance between Discovery and the ISS grew to 35 feet.

"Thanks for the great work as well Alpha," replied Archambault.

Robert Pearlman
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Seeing their handiwork

"We are hoping you guys will see a really beautiful flyaround," radioed space station commander Mike Fincke to mission control as STS-119 pilot Tony Antonelli began Discovery's tour around the outpost. "If that is the case, we were wondering if you guys could beam us a copy sometime soon cause we're very interested to see the station just as you are in a symmetrical configuration."

"It would be really nice to see [their] handiwork," added Fincke, referring to the STS-119 crew's installation of the station's final truss segment and the last two out of eight solar array wings.


Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-25-2009 08:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The voyage home

After more than a week together, Discovery and the International Space Station are now orbiting as two separate spacecraft again.

At 4:09 p.m. CDT, STS-119 pilot Tony Antonelli performed the first of two separation burns to move Discovery away from the station to start the voyage home. The final separation burn occurred at 4:37 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-26-2009 09:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day Twelve

Starting their first full day in space since separating from the International Space Station at 5:13 a.m. CDT, space shuttle Discovery's STS-119 crew awoke to the song "Enter Sandman" by heavy metal band Metallica played for mission specialist Joe Acaba.

He and pilot Tony Antonelli are using the shuttle's robotic arm and orbiter boom sensor system (OBSS) extension today to perform final inspections of Discovery's heatshield before they return to Earth on Saturday.

Beginning with the reinforced carbon-carbon panels that line the leading edge of the shuttle's starboard wing, the crew will guide the OBSS so its cameras and laser sensors can look for signs of damage from orbital debris. The inspection will move from the right wing, to the nose cap, to the left wing.

The boom will be returned to the right sill of Discovery's bay by 2:43 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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Last of the 'crew choice' highlights

Although they have another day in space before landing on Saturday, the STS-119 astronauts transmitted the last of their "crew choice" highlight reels before retiring at 8:13 p.m. CDT.

On Friday, they will stow the antenna that has enabled their daily downlinks.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-27-2009 06:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day Thirteen

Woken at 4:13 a.m. CDT to "Bright Side of the Road" performed by Van Morrison, the crew of STS-119 will spend their last full day in space preparing for their return to Earth on Saturday.

In addition to stowing items and equipment for their deorbit, the astronauts will also test space shuttle Discovery's flight control surfaces that will guide the orbiter as it glides through the atmosphere to a landing.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day Fourteen

Space shuttle Discovery's STS-119 crew began their last day in space at 4:13 a.m. CDT to "I Have a Dream" by the Swedish pop music group ABBA, played for Sandy Magnus, who has logged over 133 days in orbit.

"I'm looking forward to being home and seeing everyone today, hopefully," radioed Magnus to mission control.

STS-119 commander Lee Archambault and his crewmates, having departed the International Space Station with Magnus on Wednesday, will begin preparations to return to Earth at 7:33 a.m., about 45 minutes before the crew of Soyuz TMA-14 is scheduled to dock at the outpost. The overlapping missions and their combined 13 crew members have tied the record for the most humans in space at one time, first set in March 1995.

Should the weather cooperate, Archambault will fire Discovery's engines at 11:33 a.m., beginning their descent to Florida, with landing at the Kennedy Space Center scheduled for 12:39 p.m.

If needed, a second reentry opportunity begins with an engine burn at 1:08 p.m., followed by a touchdown on the Shuttle Landing Facility's Runway 15 at 2:14 p.m.

If the weather, which is forecast to be acceptable, does not allow for either attempt, Discovery's crew will spend another day in space and will retry for a Florida landing on Sunday. With ample consumables remaining on the shuttle, the back-up landing sites, including Edwards Air Force Base in California, will not be called to support a landing until Monday, should that be necessary.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-28-2009 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Payload bay closed

Discovery's two 60-foot-long payload bay doors have been closed and the orbiter has been maneuvered into an attitude to facilitate communications with the ground in preparation for reentry.

After being given "go" by flight controllers, the STS-119 crew is now in the process of configuring their on-board software to control their deorbit and landing.

Robert Pearlman
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Star trackers stowed

Discovery's crew has deactivated the shuttle's star trackers and commanded the navigational system's doors to close on the orbiter's nose.

They have also completed configuring the aft flight deck and middeck for reentry.

Meanwhile back on Earth, flight crew operations director Brent Jett has taken off in the shuttle training aircraft, a modified Gulstream jet, to circle the skies above Kennedy Space Center and report the weather conditions surrounding the landing site.

Robert Pearlman
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Fluid loading

To ease their return to gravity, the astronauts have been given the "go" to start "fluid loading", replacing the water they have lost from their bodies while in orbit.

The astronauts have a choice as to what they consume. STS-119 commander Lee Archambault chose 40 ounces of "orange drink", while others on his crew selected lemon-lime ade, orange ade, chicken consommé, or just water.

Depending on the drink(s) they picked, the crew members need to take a number of salt tablets, ranging from just two for the chicken consommé to 12 for straight water.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-28-2009 11:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Deorbit preparations complete

With less than an hour before the scheduled engine burn to bring Discovery back to Earth, the STS-119 crew has completed their deorbit checklists.

The astronauts have begun donning their orange pressure suits, just as they did 13 days ago as they prepared to launch.

The only remaining constraint to their landing is the weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center. The "go/no go" call for their deorbit is expected at 11:13 a.m. CDT.

Robert Pearlman
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Weather waves first landing opportunity

Mission managers have postponed Discovery's landing due to the current weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center.

"We're not going to attempt this rev," mission control advised the crew, explaining that clouds in the vicinity of the landing strip and gusting crosswinds were just too unpredictable to proceed with the first landing attempt. "Both those things have a good chance of looking better on our second opportunity," radioed capcom George Zamka.

Should the weather improve, Discovery's deorbit burn would now take place at 1:08 p.m. CDT, followed by a touchdown on the Shuttle Landing Facility's Runway 15 at 2:13 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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Weather improving

Mission control reports that a sea breeze at the Kennedy Space Center is having the desired effect of improving the weather conditions for a landing, as was hoped.

"Overall, we've got a positive trend," radioed capcom George Zamka to the crew.

Robert Pearlman
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Go for deorbit burn

"Discovery, Houston, you are go for the deorbit burn," capcom George Zamka told the STS-119 crew.

Commander Lee Archambault will fire Discovery's two orbital maneuvering system engines at 1:08:14 p.m. CDT, bringing the shuttle out of orbit for a 2:13:31 p.m. landing at Kennedy Space Center on Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility.

Robert Pearlman
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Deorbit burn

At 1:08:14 p.m. CDT, STS-119 commander Lee Archambault fired Discovery's two orbital maneuvering engines for a two minute, 59 second burn, slowing the orbiter's velocity by about 231 miles per hour, dropping it out of orbit.

"Discovery, Houston, good burn, no trims required," confirmed mission control.

Robert Pearlman
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Entry interface:

Discovery, flying over the South Pacific with its nose tipped up and its wings level, encountered the first traces of Earth's atmosphere, known as the "entry interface", at 1:42 p.m. CDT.

On its belly is a slight protuberance, or "speed bump," which engineers added to one of its thousands of heat shield tiles to disturb the hypersonic airflow, tripping the boundary layer.

The bump will create turbulence, which in turn, should result in increased heating downstream of the tile's position near the rear of the left wing.

The results of this test may help create a better heat shield for its next generation crew exploration vehicle, Orion, being designed to take astronauts to and from the space station, as well as return humans to the Moon.

Robert Pearlman
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S-turns

Discovery is now flying a series of four steep banks, rolling as much as 80 degrees to one side or the other, to slow down.

This series of banks gives the shuttle's track toward landing an appearance similar to that of an elongated letter "S".

Robert Pearlman
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Boom! Boom!

Twin sonic booms have been heard in Florida, as Discovery drops below the speed of sound.

STS-119 commander Lee Archambault has now taken control, piloting Discovery to a 2:13:31 p.m. CDT touchdown on Runway 15.

Robert Pearlman
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Touchdown!

Space shuttle Discovery touched down safely at 2:13:17 p.m. CDT on Runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida.

"Wheels stop," reported commander Lee Archambault from onboard Discovery, as the orbiter rolled to a stop at 2:14:45 p.m.

"Welcome home Discovery... after a great mission to the bring the International Space Station to full power," capcom George Zamka radioed from mission control.

The STS-119 crew launched on March 15, bringing the 30,000-pound Starboard 6, or S6, truss segment, a 45-foot long girder tipped with two 115-foot solar wings to the space station.

"Special welcome home to Sandy, after living and working on-board ISS as a member of Expedition 18 and to the entire crew of STS-119. Great job everybody!" Zamka added, referencing Sandy Magnus, who spent the past 134 days in space.

"Thank you very much, it is good to be back home," replied Archambault.

STS-119 completed 202 orbits while logging 5,304,000 miles over the course of 12 days, 19 hours, 29 minutes and 33 seconds.

Robert Pearlman
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Following the successful landing of Discovery and the customary walk-around of their vehicle, STS-119 Lee Archambault led his crewmates in a few brief remarks.

Robert Pearlman
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Excerpts from a news conference held with members of the STS-119 crew following their landing of space shuttle Discovery.

Robert Pearlman
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On Sunday, March 29, the crew of STS-119 returned home to Houston, where they addressed family, friends and co-workers at Ellington Field.


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