The extra day will allow a third spacewalk to test thermal protection system repair techniques and evaluate a thermal imaging camera.
With the mission extension, landing is now planned at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, July 17 at 8:12 a.m. CDT.
Among the highlights of Friday’s activities was the transfer of the Leonardo Multipurpose Logistics Module from Discovery’s cargo bay to its temporary mounting point on the International Space Station’s Unity module. Mission Specialist Stephanie Wilson operated the robotic arm on ISS around 4:45 a.m. to begin the process. After some initial concern that loose straps on a cover of the latching mechanism on the Unity module docking port might interfere with a proper seal between Leonardo and Unity, the MPLM was successfully latched in place by 7:15 a.m. CDT. After leak checks confirmed a good seal, Leonardo was ready for access by the astronauts who will move its supplies and equipment into the ISS over the next few days.
Discovery’s astronauts went to bed shortly after 6 p.m. Friday and were scheduled to awaken just after 2 a.m. Saturday to begin preparations for the first spacewalk of the mission.
Also on Friday, mission managers reviewed the preliminary surveys of Discovery’s heat shield and picked some areas for additional attention. Six areas were the subject of focused attention including some protruding gap fillers, the nose cap and a heat shield blanket.
In the post-Mission Management Team briefing Friday, Orbiter Project Office Manager Steve Poulos gave details of heat shield survey work. None of the items being looked at more closely gives reason for concern, said Poulos, but more analysis remains before Discovery’s heat shield can be given a clean bill of health.