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STS-119 Mission Updates: Part 3

STS-119 Mission Updates: Part 3
Space shuttle Discovery touches down on Runway 15 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to complete the 13-day, 5.3-million mile journey on the STS-119 mission to the International Space Station on March 28, 2009.
(Image: © NASA/Kim Shiflett.)

Shuttle Flight a Success, Commander Says
28 March 2009 5:26 p.m. EDT

Space shuttle Discovery?s commander Lee Archambaultsaid his crew is happyto be back Earth at their spacecraft?s homeport at the Kennedy Space Centerin Florida and proud to have boosted the InternationalSpace Station to full power.

Click here for NASA's initial landing view.

?Wewant to certainly thank all the people at the Kennedy Space Center for, numberone, getting us ready to launch, fighting through some exciting glitches beforewe launched even. But they got us ready, they got us launched safely,?Archambault said from the shuttle landing strip in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

?Wehad a very successful mission,? he added. ?We?re very proud that we were ableto bring up the S6 truss, the final power segment of the International SpaceStation. We?re very happy we were able to fly Discovery right back here toKennedy Space Center in Florida.?

Theirmission a success, Archambault and his crew will head back to the spaceport?screw quarters.

NASAwill hold a post-landing news conference no earlier than 5:30 p.m. EDT live onNASA TV. The astronauts are expected to talk to reporters no earlier than about7 or 8 pm.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s archived overage of Discovery?s STS-119 flight.

Thisconcludes SPACE.com?s mission coverage for the STS-119 mission. Check back forupdates on the next shuttle flight, the STS-125 flight to overhaul the HubbleSpace Telescope one last time.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Discovery Astronauts Inspect Shuttle
28 March 2009 5:00 p.m. EDT

After resting up from landing, shuttle Discoveryskipper Lee Archambault and his crew have stepped off the Crew TransportVehicle and are taking their first look at the outside of their spacecraftafter today?ssuccessful landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Archambault, pilot Dominic ?Tony? Phillips andmission specialists Joseph Acaba, Steven Swanson, Richard Arnold II and JohnPhillips are all on the tarmac examining Discovery and speaking with NASAofficials. Astronaut Sandra Magnus, who completed a 4 1/2-month flight withDiscovery?s landing, remained aboard the Crew Transport Vehicle and will headback to NASA?s astronaut crew quarters at the spaceport.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Astronauts Disembark Space Shuttle
28 March 2009 4:30 p.m. EDT

Their missioncomplete and successful, the seven-astronaut crew of space shuttleDiscovery has disembarked the spacecraft and doffed their spacesuits inside anearby Crew Transport Vehicle, which is a modified airport People Mover.

Clickhere for SPACE.com?s landing story by Robert Z. Pearlman from NASA?s MissionControl Center in Houston.

Shuttle commander Lee Archambault and hiscrew and expected to perform a walk-around Discovery to inspect their shipafter its successful landing today in Florida.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Touchdown! Discovery Lands Safely in Florida
28 March 2009 3:20 p.m. EDT

Shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven astronauts havesafely landed at Florida's Kennedy Space Center, following a 13-day missionto the International Space Station (ISS) and the successful installation of theStarboard 6 (S6) truss and solar arrays. After a journey of 5.3 million miles,Discovery touched down on Runway 15 at the Shuttle Landing Facility at 3:14p.m. EDT (1914 GMT) to complete its 36th space voyage and the 125th spaceshuttle mission.

Clickhere for the full landing story.

Veteran commander Lee Archambault and rookie pilotTony Antonelli guided the Orbiter on its fiery plunge through the atmosphereand hour-long free-fall descent back to Earth, then precisely executed a seriesof turns and banking maneuvers that bled-off excess speed and slowed the200,986-pound spaceplane for its powerless landing on the 3-milelong paved runway. All spacecraft systems performed as expected.

A convoy of landing support vehicles is nowapproaching Discovery and technicians will soon begin to 'safe' the vehicle ?purging the spacecraft of its toxic propellants ? to be followed by theastronauts' egress and traditional 'walkaround' of the spacecraft.

The STS-119 mission delivered the final pair ofpower-generating solar array wings and truss element to the space station. Theinstallation of this final major U.S. truss segment signals the station?sreadiness to house a six-member crew for conducting increased science. The ISSnow measures 335 feet ? more than the length of an American football field.

In addition to Archambault and Antonelli, theSTS-119 crew included flight engineer Steve Swanson, John Phillips, JosephAcaba and Richard Arnold. Discovery also delivered a new flight engineer,Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, to join the ISSExpedition 18/19 crew and returned ISSflight engineer Sandra Magnus to Earth after 134 days in orbit. Duringre-entry and descent, Magnus was strapped into a special recumbent seat in theorbiter?s middeck, keeping her in a reclined position during the ride home toease her body?s re-acclimation to gravity.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

-- Roger Guillemette

Shuttle Discovery Flying Over Gulf of Mexico
28 March 2009 3:01 p.m. EDT

Shuttle Discovery is crossing over the Gulf ofMexico, northwest of Cuba, as it continues its long, gliding approach toFlorida's Kennedy Space Center. Touchdown at the Shuttle Landing Facility isscheduled for 3:14 p.m. EDT (1814 GMT).

Mission Control confirms all spacecraft systems areperforming as expected.

The Orbiter will soon enter U.S. airspace over theFlorida's Gulf Coast, south of Tampa Bay, on its cross-peninsula landingapproach. Commander Lee Archambault and pilot Tony Antonelli are piloting the200,986-pound spaceplane through a series of turns and bankingmaneuvers to slow the vehicle and expend excess energy in preparation for itspowerless landing, culminating with left overhead turn of 260 degrees toprecisely align with Runway 15 ? the northwest-to-southeast landing strip.

Weather conditions are marginal for the Orbiter's returnto Florida with scattered clouds and a strong headwind blowing straight downRunway 15 ? the northwest to southeast landing strip. Southeast winds of 17 to24 knots are forecast, which translates into a headwind component of 16 to 23knots, just within limits. Archambault and Antonelli were advised thatDiscovery may "nudge a cloud" on its final approach for landing.

Veteran astronaut Brent Jett is flying the ShuttleTraining Aircraft on practice approaches to Runway 15 and relaying hisobservations to flight controllers.

In addition to Archambault and Antonelli, theSTS-119 crew includes flight engineer Steve Swanson, John Phillips, JosephAcaba and Richard Arnold. Discovery also delivered a new flight engineer,Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, to join the ISSExpedition 18/19 crew and is returning ISS flight engineer Sandra Magnus toEarth after 134 days in orbit. During re-entry and descent, Magnus is strappedinto a special recumbent seat in the orbiter?s middeck, keeping her in areclined position during the ride home to ease her body?s re-acclimation togravity.

Discovery's touchdown will mark the end of its 36thmission, the 125th space shuttle flight and the 28th mission to theInternational Space Station.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing update.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

-- Roger Guillemette

DiscoveryRe-entering Earth's Atmosphere
28 March 2009 2:42 p.m. EDT

Shuttle Discovery is now transitioning fromspacecraft to aircraft, encountering the upper fringes of Earth's atmosphere - knownas 'Entry Interface' - at about 400,000 feet above the southern Pacific Oceanas it begins its fiery descentand a long, gliding approach to the 3-mile long landing strip at Florida'sKennedy Space Center.

Touchdown on Runway 15 at the Shuttle LandingFacility is scheduled for 3:14 p.m. EDT (1914 GMT). All spacecraft systems areperforming as expected.

With the heat on its Thermal Protection System tilesbuilding to 2,500 degrees F, Discovery will be flying south to north, acrossCentral America, up the Yucatan Peninsula, crossing over the Gulf of Mexiconorthwest of Cuba and then descending over Florida's Gulf Coast south of TampaBay on its final cross-peninsula approach for landing.

Commander Lee Archambault and pilot Tony Antonellicompleted a 2-minute, 59-second firing of Discovery's twin Orbital ManeuveringSystem engines that began at 2:08 p.m. EDT (1808 GMT) to reduce the shuttle'svelocity sufficiently to drop it out of orbit and begin the hour-long free-falldescent back to Earth.

Archambault and Antonelli will pilot the200,986-pound spaceplane through a series of turns and bankingmaneuvers, known as 'roll reversals', to slow the vehicle for its powerlesstouchdown at the Kennedy Space Center.

Weather conditions are marginal for the Orbiter'sreturn to Florida with scattered clouds and a strong headwind blowing straightdown Runway 15 ? the northwest to southeast landing strip. Southeast winds of17 to 24 knots are forecast, which translates into a headwind component of 16to 23 knots, just within limits. Archambault and Antonelli were advised thatDiscovery may "nudge a cloud" on its final approach for landing.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing update.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

-- Roger Guillemette

Shuttle Discovery Heading Home to Florida  
28 March 2009 2:11 p.m. EDT

Shuttle Discovery has ignited its braking rockets tostart a fiery plungethrough Earth's atmosphere and a long, gliding descent to the Kennedy SpaceCenter's Shuttle Landing Facility. Touchdown is scheduled for 3:14 p.m. EDT(1914 GMT).

Commander Lee Archambault and pilot Tony Antonelli justcompleted a 2-minute, 59-second firing of Discovery's twin Orbital ManeuveringSystem engines that began at 2:08 p.m. EDT (1808 GMT) to reduce the shuttle'svelocity sufficiently to drop it out of orbit and begin the hour-long free-falldescent back to Earth. The de-orbit burn slowed Discovery's velocity by about338 feet/second (approx. 231 miles/hour).

Weather conditions are marginal for the spaceplane'sreturn to Florida with scattered clouds and a strong headwind blowing straightdown Runway 15 ? the northwest to southeast landing strip. Southeast winds of17 to 24 knots are forecast, which translates into a headwind component of 16 to 23knots ? crosswinds will be negligible. Archambault and Antonelli were advisedthat Discovery may "nudge a cloud" on its final approach for landing.

Discovery and its crew of seven astronauts willfirst encounter the upper fringes of the atmosphere at about 400,000 feet abovethe southern Pacific Ocean, flying south to north across Central America, upthe center of the Yucatan Peninsula, crossing over the Gulf of Mexico northwestof Cuba and then descending over Florida's Gulf Coast south of Tampa Bay on itsfinal cross-peninsula approach for landing.

Veteran astronaut and NASA Director of Flight CrewOperations Brent Jett has been flying landing approaches in the ShuttleTraining Aircraft ? a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulates theshuttle's handling characteristics ? closely monitoring the winds and cloudthickness, evaluating the weather conditions that Discovery will encounter onits approach and landing.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing update.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

-- Roger Guillemette

Weather Improves, Discovery 'GO' for Deorbit Burn 
28 March 2009 2:03 p.m. EDT

Shuttle Discovery has been cleared for a 3:14 p.m.EDT (1914 GMT) landing at Florida's Kennedy Space Center where weatherconditions have improved sufficiently for the space plane's returnto Earth this afternoon.

Discovery will touch down on the second of today'stwo landing opportunities. The afternoon sea breeze has kicked-in alongFlorida's Space Coast, clearing away some of the low clouds and shifting thestiff winds into a more acceptable direction for landing. Entry Flight DirectorRichard Jones was forced to wave-off the first landing opportunity aftermeteorologists forecast low clouds and strong crosswinds at the Shuttle LandingFacility.

Commander Lee Archambault and pilot Tony Antonellihave been given the 'Go' to initiate the deorbit burn at 2:08 p.m. EDT(1808 GMT).

Discovery's twin Orbital Maneuvering System engineswill be fired for 2 minutes and 59 seconds, high above the Indian Ocean, toslow the Orbiter's velocity by about 231 mph (338 feet/sec), sufficient tobegin its fiery descent through Earth's atmosphere and a long, gliding approachto Runway 15, the 3-mile long northwest-to-southeast landing strip at the Kennedy SpaceCenter.

Discovery will first encounter the upper fringes ofthe atmosphere at about 400,000 feet above the southern Pacific Ocean, flyingsouth to north, up the center of the Yucatan Peninsula, crossing over the Gulfof Mexico northwest of Cuba and then descending over Florida's Gulf Coast onits final cross-peninsula approach for landing.

Veteran astronaut and NASA Director of Flight CrewOperations Brent Jett has been flying landing approaches in the ShuttleTraining Aircraft ? a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulates theshuttle's handling characteristics ? closely monitoring the winds and cloudthickness, evaluating the weather conditions that Discovery will encounter onits approach and landing.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing preview.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

-- Roger Guillemette

Discovery 'Go' for Florida Landing
28 March 2009 1:32 p.m. EDT

Astronauts aboard shuttle Discovery have been givena 'Go' to press forward with plans for a 3:14 p.m. EDT (1914 GMT) landing atFlorida's Kennedy Space Center ? the secondof two landing opportunities today.

The afternoon sea breeze has kicked-in alongFlorida's Space Coast, clearing away some of the low clouds and shifting thestiff winds into a more acceptable direction for landing. Flight DirectorRichard Jones was forced to wave-off the first landing opportunity aftermeteorologists forecast stiff headwinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility,combined with a thickening deck of low clouds in the area.

Discovery?s crew, commanded by veteran astronaut LeeArchambault, has been given the go-ahead to resume fluid loading, a processthat calls for the astronauts to drink rehydrate themselves with fluids as apreparation measure for their return to Earth gravity.

While flying in weightlessness, their bodies lostsome fluids, NASA officials said. By fluid loading, the astronauts will bebetter equipped for the onset of gravity as they make their decent and landing,they added.

The next milestone will be Discovery?s de-orbitburn, slated to occur at about 2:08:44 p.m. EDT (1808:44 GMT) when Archambaultand pilot Tony Antonelli will fire the shuttle?s Orbital Maneuvering System(OMS) engines for about two minutes 59 seconds to send it on a homeward course.

Veteran astronaut and NASA Director of Flight Crew OperationsBrent Jett has been flying landing approaches in the Shuttle Training Aircraft? a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulates the shuttle's handlingcharacteristics ? closely monitoring the winds and thickening cloud deck,evaluating the weather conditions that Discovery will encounter on its approachand landing.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing preview.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

-- Roger Guillemette

WAVEOFF! Weather Prevents First Shuttle Landing Opportunity
28 March 2009 12:20 p.m. EDT

Space shuttle Discovery will not land at Florida's KennedySpace Center on the first of its twopossible landing opportunities today due to unacceptable weatherconditions. Conditions are unlikely to improve for Discovery's second landingopportunity at 3:13:59 p.m. EDT (1913:59 GMT), meaning that Discovery willprobably remain in orbit for an additional day.

Clickhere for SPACE.com's updated landing preview.

Flight Director Richard Jones made the determinationafter meteorologists forecast 'No-Go' conditions for the first of two Floridalanding opportunities today. Stiff headwinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility,combined with a thickening deck of low clouds in the area forced NASA towave-off the first landing attempt.

Flight controllers and the Spaceflight MeteorologyGroup will continue to monitor the dynamic Florida weather conditions in theslim hope that they will improve for a landing on today's second opportunity onorbit 202. The de-orbit burn for landing on the second opportunity would be at02:08:44 p.m. EDT (1806:44 GMT)

NASA veteran astronaut and Director of Flight CrewOperations Brent Jett has been flying landing approaches in the ShuttleTraining Aircraft ? a specially modified Gulfstream jet that simulates theshuttle's handling characteristics ? closely monitoring the winds andthickening cloud deck, evaluating the weather conditions that Discovery willencounter on its approach and landing.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing preview.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

-- Roger Guillemette

A NASA Weighs Shuttle Landing Weather
28 March 2009 12:14 p.m. EDT

NASA entry flight director Richard Jones has received aweather update from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group for today?s plannedlanding of the shuttle Discovery at 1:39 p.m. EDT (1739 GMT).

A cloud layer and higher than expected winds are the currentconcerns, with Jones set to decide whether to go ahead with today?s firstlanding attempt, which would call for a 12:33 p.m. EDT (1633 GMT) engine burnto leave orbit.

Discovery has a second window to land at 3:14 p.m. EDT (1914GMT).

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing preview.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Astronauts Don Flight Suits for Landing
28 March 2009 11:45 a.m. EDT

As they prepare for landing, Discovery pilot Lee Archambaultand pilot ?Dominic ?Tony? Antonelli are climbing into their bright orange entryflight suits as their crewmates drink large amounts of fluids to better preparetheir bodies forthe return to gravity.

The fluid drinking is known as ?fluid loading? with theastronauts drinking salt tablets with a selection orange, lemon-lime or chickenconsomm? to choose from.

Discovery is due to fire its engines at 12:33 p.m. EDT (1633GMT) to begin the descent to Earth. Flight director Richard Jones will have todecide by then whether to target today?s 1:39 p.m. EDT (1739 GMT) landingopportunity or wait for the next window in just under 2 hours.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing preview.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Discovery Astronauts Prepare Ship for Landing
28 March 2009 11:04 a.m. EDT

As astronaut Brent Jett takes off in a NASA?s shuttlelanding training aircraft to evaluate weather conditions over the Kennedy SpaceCenter in Florida for Discovery?splanned touchdown at 1:39 p.m. EDT (1739 GMT), the shuttle crew ispreparing their ship for re-entry.

Discovery astronauts are working to outfit Discovery?smiddeck with a communications speaker and other gear that was stowed aftertheir March 15 launch.

Jett will be evaluating wind and cloud layer conditions fortoday?s landing attempt. Discovery has two opportunities to land today, once at1:39 p.m. and again at about 3:14 p.m. EDT (1914 GMT).

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing preview.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

NASA Watches Weather for Shuttle Landing
28 March 2009 10:35 a.m. EDT

NASA is watching the weather for today?splanned landing of shuttle Discovery, with veteran shuttle commander BrentJett preparing to fly NASA?s shuttle landing training aircraft above thelanding strip at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to get a firsthand look atconditions. Discovery is on track to land at 1:39 p.m. EDT (1739 GMT).

In space, all is going well with Discovery?s crew as they preparethe ship for re-entry. NASA is keeping a close eye on winds and the cloud layeraround the Shuttle Landing Center at spaceport in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Today is Flight Day 14 of Discovery?s mission to deliver newsolar arrays and a new crewmember to the International Space Station.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing preview.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Shuttle Astronauts Close Payload Bay Doors
28 March 2009 10:09 a.m. EDT

Mission Control has given the space shuttle Discovery crew thego ahead to close their payload bay doors, a sign that flight director RichardJones is confident in today?s chances of a1:39 p.m. EDT (1739 GMT) landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The two clamshell-like doors have been open since Discoveryreached orbit on March 15 to help radiate heat away from the vehicle.

While the astronauts close the payload bay, NASA and Russianspace officials have laudedthe successful docking of a Soyuz spacecraft carrying a new crew to theInternational Space Station. The Soyuz docked at 9:06 a.m. EDT (1306 GMT) toferry Expedition 19 commander Gennady Padalka, flight engineer Michael Barrattand space tourist Charles Simonyi to the station.

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s landing preview.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Shuttle Crew Starts Landing Day with Abba
28 March 2009 6:34 a.m. EDT

The seven-astronaut crew of the space shuttle Discoveryawoke to the sounds of Abba as they preparefor a planned landing 1:39 pm. EDT (1739 GMT) at the Kennedy Space Centerin Cape Canaveral, Fla. today.

Mission Control roused the astronauts at 5:13 a.m. EDT (0913GMT) with the song ?I Have a Dream? by Abba, a tune selected for astronaut SandraMagnus whois returning home after what will be 134 days in space.

"I'm looking forward to being home and seeing everyonetoday, hopefully,? Magnus radioed Mission Control.

Discovery will land just a few hours after the arrivalof a Soyuz spacecraft at the International Space Station with a new crewand repeat space tourist Charles Simonyi, which is due to dock at 9:14 a.m. EDT(1414 GMT). Click here for full docking coverage.

Here?s a look at today?s landing activities for Discovery?screw (all times EDT):

?         8:33 am.: Deorbit preparationsbegin

?         9:53 am.: Payload bay door closing

?         12:33 pm: Deorbitburn

?         1:30 pm:Mila C-band radar acquisition of Discovery

?         1:39 pm:Kennedy Space Center Landing

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Weather Looks Good for Shuttle Landing
27 March 2009 12:55 p.m. EDT

Discovery shuttle commander Lee Archambault just got aweather update from Mission Control, with favorable conditions expected for Saturday?splanned landing in Florida.

The shuttle astronauts are preparing to speak with studentsat PunahouSchool in Hawaii, PresidentBarack Obama?s high school alma mater, at about 1:03

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