Seven astronauts launched Monday, April 5, aboard space shuttle Discovery from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Discovery's flight is delivering supplies and equipment to the International Space Station (ISS). Inside the shuttleís cargo bay is the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), a pressurized "moving van" that is temporarily being installed to the station. During the 13-day mission to the ISS, the module is delivering supplies, a new crew sleeping quarters and science racks that will be transferred to the stationís laboratories. Activities included three spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the stationís truss, or backbone, install a spare ammonia storage tank and return a used one, and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the stationís exterior.
The spacewalkers fell behind the timeline when an alignment issue delayed the stowage of the depleted Ammonia Tank Assembly on a carrier in space shuttle Discovery's cargo bay. Some planned tasks had to be deferred. Before wrapping up, the spacewalkers relocated a portable foot restraint and prepared cables on the Zenith 1 truss for a spare Space to Ground Ku-Band antenna, two chores required before space shuttle Atlantis' STS-132/ULF-4 mission in May.
This was the final STS-131 spacewalk, the 236th conducted by U.S. astronauts. It was the 143rd in support of International Space Station assembly and maintenance, totaling 893 hours, 33 minutes. It was the 115th spacewalk based out of the space station, totaling 706 hours, 18 minutes.
Crew members on STS-131 include Commander Alan G. Poindexter, Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. and Mission Specialists Clayton Anderson, Rick Mastracchio, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
Metcalf-Lindenburger, a former high school science teacher, is operating the shuttle's robotic arm. Without robotics, major accomplishments like building the station, repairing satellites in space and exploring other worlds would not be possible.
The shuttle is scheduled to return to Kennedy Space Center at 8:54 am EDT on April 19, 2010. A mission summary fact sheet on STS-131 can be found at: For more Space Explorers, Inc. Planetary Times go to news.space-explorers.com
For more Space Explorers, Inc. Planetary Times go to news.space-explorers.com