The STS-133 mission is planned to be the final spaceflight for Space Shuttle Discovery, and the next-to-last mission for the space shuttle program. Space Shuttle Discovery lifts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on the east coast of Florida, planned for November 30, 2010, at 4:05 AM (EST). The STS-133 crew consists of Commander Steven W. Lindsey, Pilot Eric A. Boe, and Mission Specialists Benjamin Alvin Drew Jr., Michael Reed Barratt, Timothy L. Kopra, and Nicole Passonno Stott.
The STS-133 mission is intended primarily to deliver and install the Permanent Multi-Purpose Module (PMM) to the International Space Station (ISS) for use as a new, complete segment. The PMM is the modified version of what was the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM), one of three that have been used to transport cargo to and from the ISS during previous missions. The PMM will temporarily carry other equipment and supplies for the ISS, including Express Rack 8 for scientific experiments; equipment to provide control of temperature, humidity, and safe water; and Robonaut 2 (R2), which can eventually assist astronauts with their work. Space Shuttle Discovery will also carry ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC-4), which can temporarily hold equipment on the exterior of the ISS. Secured to ELC-4 is a spare radiator (Heat Rejection Subsystem Radiator, or HRS) to help control temperature for the ISS if one of the six on the ISS’s exterior were to fail.
Approximately thirteen hours of extra-vehicular activity (EVA) — combined during the mission’s two spacewalks — is expected to complete many of the duties on the exterior of the ISS. The mission’s many other tasks are completed inside the ISS and Space Shuttle Discovery; crew members can also complete tasks for the exterior by operating large robotic arms from inside the ISS and space shuttle.
The STS-133 mission is expected to last about 10 days and 19 hours (which is about 12 mission or “flight” days), with plans for Space Shuttle Discovery and its crew to return to Kennedy Space Center for landing.
Days 1 – 3: Launch, Docking with the ISS, Beginning of Mission Tasks
DAY 1: Space Shuttle Discovery launches, with the payload bay doors later being opened for deployment of the space shuttle’s external-inspection devices (including the Orbiter Boom Sensor System, or OBSS) and shuttle-to-ground communications devices (including the Ku-band antenna).
DAY 2: The crew inspects the exterior of the space shuttle using the OBSS (operated by the interior controls), and they inspect the tools, suits, and equipment that are later used in the mission. The crew prepares for docking with the ISS and for some of the tasks that occur later in the mission.
DAY 3: Steered by Lindsey, Space Shuttle Discovery approaches the ISS with the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver (a backflip with the space shuttle) for proper alignment, which is photographed by ISS crew members to view the space shuttle’s thermal protection system (the space shuttle’s exterior). Space Shuttle Discovery docks with the ISS, and the two crews meet in the ISS at its hatch opening. Members of both crews transfer cargo between the space shuttle and ISS, and (by operating the robotic arms of Space Shuttle Discovery and the ISS) they move the ELC-4 from the space shuttle’s payload bay to the ISS’s exterior.
Days 4 – 8: Main Mission Tasks
DAY 4: The crew prepares for the first spacewalk (EVA), continues transferring cargo, and uses the ISS’s robotic arm (Canadarm2) to move the OBSS to Space Shuttle Discovery’s robotic arm.
DAY 5: Kopra and Drew are outside of the ISS to perform the first spacewalk (EVA) to install and adjust hardware and spare parts for the exterior of the ISS, and to remove a failed ammonia pump that been temporarily stored by the ISS crew. To assist Kopra and Drew during their EVA, Stott supervises the EVA while Barratt and Shannon Walker (currently the ISS’s Flight Engineer) operate the ISS’s exterior robotic arm from inside the ISS.
DAY 6: Crew members attach the PMM to the Unity node of the ISS. Also, preparation begins for Kopra’s and Drew’s second spacewalk (EVA). If the exterior of Space Shuttle Discovery seems to have had any issues from earlier inspection, they are investigated further.
DAY 7: Kopra and Drew perform the second spacewalk (EVA) to release ammonia from the failed pump, install and adjust hardware, remove unnecessary insulation and covers from exterior parts of the ISS, prepare for the installation of ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 4, install a camera onto Dextre (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator), and place lens covers onto the new Dextre camera and two other cameras. As with the first spacewalk (EVA), Kopra and Drew are assisted by Barratt and Walker controlling the ISS’s robotic arm from inside the ISS while Stott manages the EVA work.
DAY 8: The crews transfer cargo between Space Shuttle Discovery and the ISS, and from the new PMM to other areas of the ISS. The crews have an opportunity to rest from their work.
Days 9 – 12: Conclusion of Mission Tasks, Press Conference, Undocking from the ISS, Landing
DAY 9: The two crews participate (by satellite through NASA) in a press conference to explain their progress and the status of the mission. Final transferring of cargo between Space Shuttle Discovery and the ISS is completed, and the space shuttle crew’s equipment is inspected. The crews have another opportunity to rest before returning to Earth. In preparation for undocking Space Shuttle Discovery from the ISS, the space shuttle crew exits the ISS through the hatch opening to re-enter the space shuttle.
DAY 10: Boe undocks Space Shuttle Discovery from the ISS and flies the space shuttle once around the ISS before heading to Earth. For NASA to later review the status of the ISS’s exterior, the space shuttle crew photographs it during departure. The crew also operates the OBSS to briefly inspect Space Shuttle Discovery’s exterior; the OBSS is then stored again in the space shuttle’s payload bay.
DAY 11: The crew secures supplies in Space Shuttle Discovery’s cabin, and the Ku-band antenna is retracted into the space shuttle’s payload bay. The crew prepares for Space Shuttle Discovery to de-orbit and land.
DAY 12: The space shuttle’s payload bay doors are closed after the devices for inspection and communication have been stored. After continued preparation, the crew de-orbits Space Shuttle Discovery, an event referred to as the de-orbit burn because of the change in engine usage by the crew.
After the space shuttle re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, NASA’s ground control can assist the crew to safely land Space Shuttle Discovery, concluding the STS-133 mission.
After Space Shuttle Discovery has landed, the focus at NASA is preparation for the next space shuttle mission, STS-134. The STS-134 mission is intended primarily to deliver hardware, spare parts, and supplies to the ISS. Aside from the possibility of the space shuttle program being extended further than one more mission, STS-134 is set to be the final mission for Space Shuttle Endeavour and for the space shuttle program.
NASA’s official website provides details of their projects and is the best on-line resource for information about NASA’s accomplishments and objectives: http://www.nasa.gov/
For more about the details and objectives for the mission, see NASA’s STS-133 press kit:
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