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STS-131: TOUCHDOWN!

"Dex, congratulations to you and the crew on an outstanding mission"
"..It was a great mission... we are proud glad that the International Space Station is stocked up again, thanks a lot."

Discovery landed at Kennedy Space Center this morning after a one-day delay caused by bad weather. The orbiter is on the ground at the Shuttle Landing Facility, having wrapped up a successful mission to the International Space Station. NASA reports:

Discovery Lands in Florida

Space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center in Florida
Image above: Space shuttle Discovery lands at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, completing the STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA TV

With Commander Alan G. Poindexter and Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. at the controls, space shuttle Discovery descended to a smooth landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-131 crew members concluded their successful mission to the International Space Station when the shuttle touched down at 9:08 a.m. EDT.

Discovery arrived at the station April 7, delivering more than seven tons of equipment and supplies. During the 10-day stay, Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio and Clayton Anderson conducted three spacewalks to install a 1,700-pound ammonia tank assembly on the station’s exterior to replace a depleted predecessor. They also replaced a rate gyro assembly, retrieved a Japanese experiment and two debris shields.

Discovery Returns Home

Space shuttle Discovery lands.
Image above: Space shuttle Discovery and crew returned home to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:08 a.m. EDT on April 20. the landing brings to a close a 15-day mission after 238 orbits of Earth covering 6,232,235 statue miles. Image credit: NASA TV

Live video and chat at SpaceVidCast. Live video at SFN and Florida Today. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Pics and video will be at KSC. Twitpics at Scibuff. More clips at Space Multimedia. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-131: Heading Home To KSC

Flight Day 16 is homecoming Day for Discovery. After skipping the first two landing opportunities (one each at KSC and Edwards), mission managers gave the "GO" for deorbit burn at 7:43 EDT this morning. The three-minute firing began at 8:03AM, slowing the orbiter enough to where it dropped out of orbit. Discovery will glide to a landing at KSC's Runway 33 at 9:08AM. NASA reports:

Discovery to Land at Kennedy Space Center

Space shuttle Discovery landing track
Image above: This geographic map shows space shuttle Discovery’s landing ground track to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA

› View larger image

Space shuttle Discovery has completed its deorbit burn to slow the shuttle on its descent to a 9:08 a.m. landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The landing will take the shuttle over Vancouver, northeast Washington, near Helena, Montana, over central Wyoming, across Kansas to northeast of Tulsa, Oklahoma, north of Little Rock, Arkansas, over Oxford, Mississippi, near Montgomery, Alabama, north of Albany, east of Valdosta and south of Columbus, Georgia, and, finally, over Florida east of Gainesville and west of Jacksonville.

Lingering fog and some unexpected small rain showers forced flight controllers to pass on space shuttle Discovery’s first landing opportunity at Kennedy.

› How to Predict Sighting Opportunities for Shuttle Landings
› View Landing Ground Tracks and Discovery’s North American Flyovers for Tuesday Landing

Live video & chat at SpaceVidCast. Live video at SFN and Florida Today. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight and collectSpace. Twitpic gallery at Scibuff. Landing blog at NASA. More clips at Space Multimedia. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-131: WAVE OFF

Both of today's landing attempts were waved off due to rain and low clouds at KSC. Weather may be better tomorrow, and mission managers will activate the west-coast landing site at Edwards AFB in addition to KSC. NASA reports:

Weather Delays Landing; Next Opportunity on Tuesday

Shuttle Landing Facility
Image above: Weather conditions partially obscure this view of the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image credit: NASA TV

Continued low cloud coverage at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility forced flight controllers to pass on STS-131’s second landing opportunity Monday.

This was the last opportunity for space shuttle Discovery to land today.

The next Kennedy Space Center landing opportunity is Tuesday with a deorbit burn at 6:31 a.m. EDT and landing at 7:33 a.m.

Edwards Air Force Base in California also is expected to be called up for Tuesday landing opportunities.

Live video & chat at SpaceVidCast. Live video at SFN and Florida Today. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Twitpic gallery at Scibuff. Landing blog at NASA. More clips at Space Multimedia. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-131: First Landing Attempt

Flight Day 15 is supposed to see Discovery head home to KSC, but the weather is not looking too good for Monday's landing attempt. If they do take one of the two opportunities this morning, the orbiter will glide over much of North America, a rarity since the Columbia disaster.  NASA reports:

Weather Forecast May Postpone Landing

STS-131 Landing Ground Track - Rev 222. NASA Image.
The astronauts onboard space shuttle Discovery are getting ready to conclude their successful mission to the International Space Station, weather permitting, with a planned landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Monday at 8:48 a.m. EDT.

› How to Predict Sighting Opportunities for Shuttle Landings
› View Landing Ground Tracks

When Discovery re-enters the Earth's atmosphere Monday morning, it will be flying over the northern Pacific Ocean on a course that will take it over much of North America before landing at KSC.

Forecasts for Kennedy are not promising, calling for high overcast and two layers of scattered clouds, as well as a chance of showers in the area. If needed, there are landing opportunities at Kennedy and the backup runway at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Tuesday.

Additional Resources
› STS-131 Press Kit (7.9 Mb PDF)
› STS-131 Mission Summary (890 Kb PDF)

Monday's Landing Day Highlights

3:51 a.m. Deorbit preparations begin
5:03 a.m. Payload bay door closing
5:13 a.m. Mission Control "go" for Ops 3 software transition
6:20 a.m. Discovery astronauts suit up
6:43 a.m. Astronauts strap into their seats
7:10 a.m. Orbital Maneuvering System engine gimbal checks
7:21 a.m. Auxiliary power unit prestart
7:33 a.m. Mission Control "go/no-go" decision for the deorbit burn
7:38 a.m. Maneuver to the deorbit burn attitude
7:43 a.m. Deorbit burn
8:35 a.m. Merritt Island, Fla. tracking station acquires signal from Endeavour
8:48 a.m. Landing

› View Landing Ground Tracks

Live video & chat at SpaceVidCast. Live video at SFN and Florida Today. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Flight Day 14 videos are up at JSC. Landing blog at NASA. Pics and video at NASA. More clips at Space Multimedia. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-131: Docking Day

Flight Day 3 will see Discovery link up with the International Space Station. Docking is scheduled for 3:44AM EDT early Wednesday morning. The failure of the Ku-band antenna shortly after launch Monday means that the crew won't have their normal radar working, but they have backup procedures, and have trained for this contingency. NASA reports:

Docking Day for Discovery and STS-131 Crew

STS131-S-036 -- Space shuttle Discovery lifts off
Image above: Space shuttle Discovery lifts off. Image credit: NASA

› Meet the STS-131 Crew

The seven member crew of Discovery is just hours from joining the Expedition 23 crew aboard the International Space Station as they work toward an early Wednesday morning docking with the outpost.

Commander Alan G. Poindexter and Pilot James P. Dutton Jr. will fire shuttle jets to refine the orbiter’s approach to the station. Mission Specialists Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenberger, Clayton Anderson, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki will support them on the flight deck. The crew will be docking the shuttle without radar because of the Ku-Band antenna failure. They are trained to rendezvous and dock without radar.

After Discovery arrives at a point 600 feet directly below the station, Poindexter will command the shuttle to slowly rotate so that its underside is facing the station, and Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi will photo-document the shuttle’s heat shield tiles. That imagery will be added to the video taken on flight day 2 and sent to the ground for study by specialists looking for any damaged tiles.

Once leak checks are completed, the hatches between the vehicles are scheduled to be opened to begin joint operations. With their arrival at the station, it will be the first time since launch that the crew of Discovery can be seen by NASA television viewers.

Live chat/video at SpaceVidCast. Live video at SFN and Florida Today. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Pics and video at KSC. More clips at Space Multimedia. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

Four female astronauts rendezvous 50 years after first woman in space

Four women astronauts are preparing to rendezvous in space nearly 50 years after the Soviet Union put the first woman into orbit.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/science/space/article7087600.ece


STS-131: Discovery Reaches Orbit

The crew of Discovery has reached orbit, and are chasing the ISS for a rendezvous and docking this Wednesday. With this launch,  and the ISS crew, it's first time that there are four women in orbit at the same time, and the first time two Japanese are in space together. NASA reports:

Discovery Roars Toward Space

Space shuttle Discovery launches.
Image above: Space shuttle Discovery lifts off. Image credit: NASA TV

Space shuttle Discovery and a crew of seven astronauts headed to space in the predawn darkness of April 5, beginning a 13-day mission to the International Space Station. Discovery's two solid rocket boosters ignited right on schedule at 6:21 a.m. EDT, sending the shuttle soaring past the launch tower at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

At the postlaunch news conference, Mike Moses, chair of the Mission Management Team, called it, "a spectacular launch and picture-perfect countdown."

Discovery and Crew Delivering Science Hardware to Station

NASA: STS-131 patch (cropped - links to Mission Timeline)Commander Alan Poindexter is leading the STS-131 mission to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Discovery. Joining Poindexter are Pilot Jim Dutton and Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Additional Resources
› STS-131 Press Kit (2.4 Mb PDF)
› STS-131 Mission Summary (890 Kb PDF)

Launch clip at YouTube. Live video at SFN and Florida Today. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Preflight pics are up at JSC and Sentinel. Launch blog at NASA. Pics and video at KSC. More clips at Space Multimedia. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-131: LIFTOFF!

"..and liftoff of Discovery, blazing a trail to scientific discoveries aboard Space Station!"

Discovery roared into the pre-dawn sky to begin a 13-day mission to the International Space Station. NASA reports:

Discovery Lifts Off on the STS-131 Mission

Space shuttle Discovery lifts off.
Image above: Space shuttle Discovery lifts off. Image credit: NASA TV

Live HD coverage at SpaceVidCast. Live video at SFN and Florida Today. Discussion at Nasaspaceflight. Preflight pics are up at JSC and Sentinel. Launch blog at NASA. Pics and video at KSC. More clips at Space Multimedia. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.