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Happy together: PMM to be attached to stationposted March 1, 2011 6:08 a.m. CST

By the end of the day Tuesday, the International Space Station will have an additional 2,472 cubic feet of storage space, following the installation of the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo.

Discovery's crew members got their wake-up call to begin Flight Day 6 at 4:57 a.m. CST to the tune of "Happy Together" by The Turtles. The song was played for mission specialist Steve Bowen, who completed his sixth spacewalk on Monday.

"Today is another great day to be up here. We're installing the last U.S. module and getting ready for another EVA," radioed Bowen.

Preparations for the second spacewalk of the mission will occupy several hours of Bowen's and fellow spacewalker Alvin Drew's time, culminating with a crew-wide procedure review and another overnight campout inside the Quest airlock.


The PMM Leonardo in Discovery's payload bay. Credit: Roscosmos

But first, mission specialists Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott will use the station's 58-foot Canadarm2 robotic arm to remove the Leonardo module from Discovery's cargo bay and fly it to an installation on the Earth-facing port of the Unity node. That work is scheduled to begin just after 7 a.m. and wrap up by 9:38 a.m.

With the earlier decision by mission managers that a focused inspection of Discovery's heat shield won't be necessary, extra space opened up in the crew's day. As a result, they are now scheduled to enter Leonardo for the first time today. Pilot Eric Boe is slated to be the first to float in, just before 6 p.m.
Space station expanded with "float-in closet"posted March 1, 2011 9:22 a.m. CST

The International Space Station gained a new storage closet today as the crew of space shuttle Discovery used the station's robotic arm to attach the Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo to the Earth-facing port of the Unity module.

Beginning at 7:26 a.m. CST, mission specialists Mike Barratt and Nicole Stott inched the 58-foot-long Canadarm2 onto the PMM's grapple fixture. They then used the arm to lift the 28,353 pound module from Discovery's payload bay and moved it to Unity, where, as its name implies, the PMM will permanently reside.


Credit: NASA TV

At 9:05 a.m., the PMM was anchored in place. Discovery's pilot Eric Boe and Expedition 26 flight engineer Cady Coleman engaged latches on the common berthing mechanism to attach PMM to Unity.

"Leonardo is looking very, very happy to be in his or her new home," said Coleman.

The PMM Leonardo was originally the MPLM Leonardo, a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module used to ferry supplies back and forth to the station. For STS-133, the PMM was modified to become a permanent ISS module.

The same size (21 feet long, 15 feet in diameter) as the European Space Agency's Columbus laboratory, the PMM offers the station an additional 2,472 cubic feet of pressurized volume for storage and for scientific use. Leonardo is the last of the modules to be attached to the U.S. operating segment (USOS) of the International Space Station.


Credit: NASA TV

To transform Leonardo from a logistics carrier used for a decade onboard seven space shuttle flights into a permanent station module able to stay ten more years on orbit, it was modified with enhanced exterior shielding to protect against micrometeoroid impacts and a redesigned inside layout to allow crew access for maintenance and repair.

The Italian Space Agency, working with NASA, contracted Thales Alenia Space, which also designed and built the multi-purpose logistic modules, to make the modifications to Leonardo.

The PMM arrives on the station fully-stocked with one experiment rack, six resupply stowage platforms, five resupply and two integrated stowage platforms. Also packed onboard, Robonaut 2, the first human-like robot to be launched into space.
Space station "family photo" is a "no go"posted March 1, 2011 12:33 a.m. CST

NASA and its International Space Station (ISS) partners have decided to forego a one-time-only photo opportunity to take a "family portrait" of the orbiting laboratory together with all of its visiting vehicles attached.

The now-abandoned plan would have involved three of the station's crew members undocking a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the ISS, backing it away from the complex, and then collecting imagery of the station as it rotated below. The what-could-have-been historic photos and video would have captured the outpost together with space shuttle Discovery, as well as Europe's ATV Johannes Kepler, Japan's HTV Kounotori, one Russian Soyuz (TMA-20) and two Russian Progress vehicles.

"We asked the partnership to consider the [photo opportunity]," Kenneth Todd, NASA's space station mission integration and operations manager, told reporters on Tuesday. "We started this a couple of weeks ago. We identified all the forward work through all the partners that they had to go do to go assess their readiness from a partner standpoint."

"At this morning's station mission management team meeting, we had a plan to go do a 'go/no go' [poll] to go do that Soyuz flyabout," continued Todd. "Our Russian colleagues were first out of the chute this morning. After doing their own due diligence, using their own independent process within the Russian side of house, they've determined that with 24 Soyuz [Soyuz TMA-01M], which is the vehicle we were going to use to do this flyaround, they are not in a position to recommend doing that flyabout."

Launched to the station on Oct. 7, 2010, Soyuz TMA-01M was the first of Russia's crewed vehicles upgraded with a digital telemetry system and digital flight computer.

"Their primary basis for [not going forward with the flyabout] was that this particular vehicle is what they consider to be a new vehicle. It was what we call a series 700 vehicle. And so this is its maiden flight," said Todd. "They had a flight program set aside for that particular vehicle, which had it coming to station, serving its sixth month term and then returning."

"Basically, when we asked them to look at this request, and the amount of time they had to look at it and the fact that they didn't have before this vehicle was launched an opportunity to work this maneuver through their normal development and test planning and given it is a new vehicle, they came back and said they recommend not doing it," he said.

The station's managers accepted the recommendation unanimously.

"We all place a great amount of faith in the system the Russians have to go make this decision on their side. So as a mission management team, I asked that we cease all further activities with regards to this discussion about the flyabout," said Todd.

"I think in some ways this will allow the team to get on with the rest of the mission," Todd said. "It allows [the team] to stay focused on trying to get the things done we need them to do and that we have laid out for this mission for the last couple of years."
Multipurpose module opens for multi-purposesposted March 2, 2011 4:43 a.m. CST

The International Space Station's newly-berthed Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) Leonardo was opened for the first time Tuesday evening, giving the station and space shuttle Discovery crews their first access to the fully-stocked orbital storage closet.

The new room expanded the station's pressurized volume by 2,472 cubic feet starting at 5:17 p.m. CST as its common berthing mechanism hatch was opened and Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly floated inside.

"It's good to have Leonardo up here and attached," radioed STS-133 pilot Eric Boe, who with his shuttle and station crewmates soon followed Kelly inside.

WIth the initial excitement of the opening behind them, preparations for the mission's second spacewalk resumed. Spacewalkers Stephen Bowen and Alvin Drew began a campout in the lower pressure atmosphere of the station's Quest airlock at 6:48 p.m. to ready their bodies for Wednesday's excursion.


Credit: NASA TV

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