NASA adds 13th day to Discovery's final flight

Mar 03, 2011 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
In this frame grab made Thursday, March 3, 2011 from from NASA TV, space shuttle Discovery astronauts and mission specialists Nicole Stott, left, Michael Barratt, center,and pilot Eric Boe let the microphone float between answers as they participate in media interviews while taking a break aboard the International Space Station. With the major objectives of their joint mission behind them, Mission Control gave the station and shuttle crews the afternoon off, a day after the second and final spacewalk of Discovery's final journey. (AP Photo/NASA TV)

(AP) -- The 12 orbiting astronauts took care of a little maintenance work aboard the International Space Station on Thursday before a well deserved break on their twice extended mission.

With the major objectives of their joint mission behind them, the station and shuttle crews couldn't wait to gather around the big bay window to take in the majestic views of Earth. Mission Control gave them the afternoon off, a day after the second and final spacewalk of Discovery's final journey.

The shuttle will get an extra day to savor the experience.

On Thursday, managers added a 13th day to Discovery's mission, which already had been stretched earlier in the week to 12. When notified about "the extra extra day," shuttle commander Steven Lindsey called it great news. "We're excited," he said.

In a series of TV interviews earlier in the day, astronaut Alvin Drew said when he floated out on his first this week, "I had to keep reminding myself that I had a job to do and not just take in this gorgeous scenery around me."

"You are part of the scene. You've gone through the looking glass," he said in a series of TV interviews.

Astronaut Nicole Stott said she and her crewmates have talked a lot about Discovery's final voyage. NASA's oldest shuttle will be retired once it returns to Earth next week and be sent to a museum.

Endeavour will make its farewell flight in April, and Atlantis will close out NASA's 30-year this summer.

Stott noted that the word "bittersweet" is used quite a bit to describe this last flight of Discovery, which she called "a really, really high-performing spacecraft."

"I tend to think more 'bittersad,' " she told an interviewer.

She added: "It's just a part of history that I hope we hold on to and appreciate and that we celebrate when we get home and are walking away from her on the runway for the last time."

Lindsey said the mission has gone "just absolutely spectacular."

The six shuttle and six station astronauts teamed up to install a new storage room on the orbiting lab, and hooked up an equipment platform with a spare radiator.

On Thursday morning, they fired Discovery's thrusters to steer the outpost into a slightly higher orbit. And later in the afternoon, they were going to get a special phone call - from President Barack Obama.

Discovery will remain at the space station until Monday, two days longer than originally planned. The extra time will be used to unload supplies and experiments from the storage unit.

Landing is now scheduled for Wednesday.

Explore further: Europe sat-nav launch glitch linked to frozen pipe

4 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US Discovery astronauts step out on last spacewalk

Mar 02, 2011

Two US astronauts on Wednesday stepped out on the second and final spacewalk of the Discovery shuttle mission at the International Space Station to work on repairs at the orbiting lab.

Astronauts prepare for 1st of 2 spacewalks

Feb 27, 2011

(AP) -- The astronauts aboard the orbiting shuttle-station complex geared up Sunday for the first spacewalk of their mission, amid some good news from Mission Control.

Astronauts take 3rd, final spacewalk of mission

Apr 13, 2010

(AP) -- A pair of astronauts finished installing a fresh storage tank outside the International Space Station on Tuesday, accomplishing a main mission objective that required three spacewalks.

Recommended for you

Europe sat-nav launch glitch linked to frozen pipe

10 hours ago

A frozen fuel pipe in the upper stage of a Soyuz launcher likely caused the failure last month to place two European navigation satellites in orbit, a source close to the inquiry said Wednesday.

Cyanide ice in Titan's atmosphere

12 hours ago

Gigantic polar clouds of hydrogen cyanide roughly four times the area of the UK are part of the impressive atmospheric diversity of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, a new study led by Leiden Observatory, ...

Video: Alleged meteor caught on Russian dash cam (again)

15 hours ago

Thanks to the ubiquity of dashboard-mounted video cameras in Russia yet another bright object has been spotted lighting up the sky over Siberia, this time a "meteor-like object" seen on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 27.

User comments : 0