Discovery's final mission will bring the shuttle to the ISS for delivery of important spare parts for the station.
On its final mission, the
space shuttle Discovery will spend two days heading toward its rendezvous with
the International Space Station. The crew is scheduled to perform a standard
scan of the shuttle's thermal-protection system using the orbiter boom sensor
system attached to the end of Discovery's robotic arm. While the inspection is
under way, the crew will work on preparing the spacesuits onboard the shuttle
that will be transferred to the station after docking and will be used during
the mission's two spacewalks, NASA reported.
Commander Steve Lindsey,
Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt
and Nicole Stott are scheduled to rendezvous and dock with the station on
Saturday. During Discovery's seven days at the station, Bowen and Drew will do
two spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components.
The reinforced and rewired
Multipurpose Logistics Module Leonardo will provide 2,472 cubic feet of
additional pressurized space for the station. It is scheduled to be unberthed
from Discovery and connected to the station's Unity node on March 2. Among its
contents is Robonaut 2, a robot much like a human upper torso. During space
shuttle Discovery's final spaceflight, the STS-133 crewmembers will take
important spare parts to the ISS along with the Express Logistics Carrier-4.
For the first six-and-a-half
hour spacewalk on March 1, Bowen and Drew will stow a failed pump module,
install an extension cable and perform other tasks. On the second spacewalk,
another scheduled outing on March 3, they will vent ammonia from the failed
pump; install a camera on Dextre, the Canadian robotic device more formally
known as the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, and remove insulation from
it; install Crew Equipment Translation Aid lights, and troubleshoot a radiator
stowage beam bracket.
Later this weekend, Barratt,
Bowen and Stott will work with Drew to unpack and prepare the spacesuits that
Drew and Bowen will use for the mission's two spacewalks. The four mission
specialists will also get ready for Saturday's docking with the ISS, checking
out the tools that will be used for the rendezvous and setting up a camera that
Lindsey and Boe will use to guide the shuttle in.
Meanwhile, aboard the
station, the thrusters of the newly arrived Johannes Kepler Automated Transfer
Vehicle were tested overnight. The European cargo vehicle was used to boost the
station's altitude by about a mile less than 24 hours after it docked to the
Zvezda service module on Feb. 24. The 3-minute, 18-second thruster firing
provided proof that the vehicle could perform reboost as expected and
positioned the station for the next round of Russian Soyuz vehicle operations.
Discovery was the shuttle
that launched the Hubble Space Telescope and the Ulysses probe designed to
study the sun. The shuttle also carried Project Mercury astronaut John Glenn,
who was 77 at the time, back into space during STS-95 in October 1998, making
him the oldest person to venture into space. Discovery has flown 38 flights,
completed 5,247 orbits and spent 322 days in orbit. The shuttle is the orbiter
fleet leader, having flown more flights than any other orbiter in the fleet,
including four in 1985 alone.