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STS-128 Mission Expands Station's Research
09.21.09
 
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Space shuttle Discovery turned night into day along Florida's east coast with a launch at one minute before midnight on August 28. The spectacular liftoff began Discovery's 37th mission.

Two days after launch, Commander Rick Sturckow carefully guided the 100-ton space shuttle toward successful rendezvous and docking with the 350-ton space station as they orbited 225 miles above Earth. With three spacewalks on the agenda during their eight days of docked operations, the crews of shuttle and station got down to work with supply and equipment transfers that would stretch throughout the mission.

In addition to supplies and research facilities, the flight delivered a new crew member to the International Space Station. Tim Kopra ended his time on board the space station, swapping places with Nicole Stott who joined the six-member Expedition 20 crew.

The crew used the station's robotic arm to move the Leonardo Multi- Purpose Logistics Module from Discovery’s payload bay to the Earth- facing port on the station’s Harmony node . From there, they unloaded 15,000 pounds of cargo from the module.

Danny Olivas and Nicole Stott spent about six and a half hours performing the mission's first spacewalk, replacing an empty ammonia tank assembly and retrieving two science experiments. Inside the station, newly delivered crew and science equipment was installed.

On the mission's second spacewalk, it took Olivas and the European Space Agency's Christer Fuglesang about six and a half hours to install the new ammonia tank on the station and stow the depleted 1,295-pound tank in the shuttle's payload bay. The new tank provided 600 pounds of fresh ammonia to circulate through the station's port cooling system.

Olivas and Fuglesang also were paired for the mission's third and final spacewalk. During the seven-hour session, they deployed a payload attachment system on the station’s truss, replaced a rate gyro assembly, a power control module and two GPS antennas.

Using the station's robotic arm, the crew returned the logistics module to Discovery's payload bay before the two crews parted and the shuttle undocked from the station.

A weather delay kept Discovery and crew in space an extra day, and also prevented them from returning to Earth where their mission began at Kennedy Space Center. Instead, the shuttle touched down safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California on September 11, ending a successful 14-day mission.

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