The shuttle’s trip to the space station should take two days. Once there, Discovery’s crew will unload and install the $1 billion lab and hand-deliver a specially made pump for the outpost’s finicky toilet.
About five pieces of debris — what appeared to be thin pieces of insulating foam — broke off the fuel tank during liftoff, but the losses did not occur during the crucial first two minutes and should be of no concern, said NASA’s space operations chief, Bill Gerstenmaier. This was the first tank to have all safety changes prompted by the 2003 Columbia disaster built in from the start.
Three spacewalks are planned during Discovery’s 14-day flight: to install Kibo, replace an empty nitrogen-gas tank and try out various cleaning methods on a clogged solar-wing rotating joint.
The Space Shuttle is scheduled to blast off this Saturday for another construction mission to the International Space Station. Discovery’s mission is the second of three to deliver elements of Japan’s massive Kibo lab. The STS-124 astronauts are planning on three spacewalks: attach the 37-foot main segment of Kibo, relocate the module’s attic-like storage compartment, and perform station maintenance. Also on the docket: parts to repair a currently non-functional pump on for the service module toilet. Hope that goes well!
NASA’s Phoenix lander is prepping to move it’s 8-foot robotic arm around in preparation for digging activities near its landing site.
Photographs sent back from the lander show that it’s in a good location to search for water ice under the top layers of Martian soil.
I’m still stoked from watching the landing this weekend. A significant stride in Martian exploration and solar system knowledge can take place with Phoenix.