STS -119 (English Space Transportation System) is the name of a space flight mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle Discovery ( OV- 103), NASA. It was the 125th Space Shuttle mission, the 28th shuttle mission to the ISS and the 36th flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

The launch took place on 15 March 2009 at 23:43 UTC.

The mission STS -119 brought the S6- grid element to the International Space Station. This grid element was the last of the four solar modules, was installed. Another objective of the team was the connection of the solar panel and batteries.

  • 2.1 engine trouble
  • 3.1 Start, Rendezvous and coupling
  • 3.2 Work on the ISS
  • 3.3 Return


  • Lee Archambault ( second space flight), Commander
  • Dominic Antonelli ( first space flight), Pilot
  • Joseph Acaba ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Richard Arnold ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • John Phillips ( third space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Steven Swanson ( second space flight), Mission Specialist

ISS crew Departure

ISS Expedition 18

  • Koichi Wakata ( third space flight), flight engineer ( JAXA / Japan)

ISS Crew Return

ISS Expedition 18

  • Sandra Magnus ( second space flight ), aircraft engineer


After their last mission (STS -124 ), the Discovery was taken back to their maintenance hangar where the routine check-ups and repairs were carried out by damage. The external tank for the flight met on July 15, 2008 at Kennedy Space Center and was mounted between the solid boosters. Originally tank and boosters for the STS- 125 were provided, which had to be postponed for nine months due to technical difficulties at the serviceable Hubble Space Telescope. It was decided on 30 October to the fortified Atlantis to withdraw from the tank so that the discovery can use this for the STS -119 mission already on the tank. Furthermore, it is time for the Ares IX test flight of the Ares I as part of the Constellation program free the starting platform.

The Discovery was transferred on January 7, 2009 for the Vehicle Assembly Building, then attached to the external tank. The entire shuttle was run on January 14 to the launch pad 39A, where it was expected from the already delivered on January 11, main payload. This was integrated during the next few days in the payload bay. On January 19, the crew came to the terminal countdown demonstration test to familiarize yourself with the safety precautions at the launch site.

Engine trouble

After the STS -126 mission was discovered on the cooling pressure valves of the main engines of the Endeavour damages, so that the counterparts of the Discovery were sent for safety's sake to an inspection, however, it passed without errors. They were brought back on January 30 to KSC and then mounted. However, to understand the problem, they gave more analysis and testing in order.

On February 3, the leading persons of the participating programs came together for the last two Flight Readiness Reviews ( FRR) to set a start date. However, they found that the analyzes regarding the valves require more time and thus a start would not be possible before the 19th of February. The FRR was terminated open and should be continued on February 14, shortly after a special meeting, at first. This meeting was planned for 12 February, but should be postponed by one day, which also includes the start date suffered - this was now on the 22 February. During the special meeting, it was found that were made in the valve problem progress, you still need time for the analyzes. Thus, the date for the FRR on the 20th February and the tentative start date was placed on the 27 February. However, it was also decided during this meeting, to postpone the start, still there were no satisfactory test results. A new launch date was not mentioned, but a meeting scheduled on February 25. On February 24, instructions were given to replace the valves completely against valves with less inserts. On March 4, managers and technicians of the space shuttle program came together to examine the progress of the work. They decided to join two days later proceed to the Flight Readiness Review. Following this third FRR March 12, 01:20 UTC was released as the first startup option. The crew came on March 8 at the Kennedy Space Center, and shortly thereafter began the countdown.

Mission History

Start, Rendezvous and coupling

The first launch attempt on 12 March already ended during fueling of the external tank. It was noticed that in the hydrogen vent line leak was present and therefore broke the attempt at 16:37 UTC from. The external tank was then emptied. Another launch attempt should first be made on 13 March at 12:54 UTC, but was canceled in order to have more time for the analysis of the problem, which had never before occurred in this form. After the cause of the leak, a defective valve, was found March 15 was aimed at 23:43 UTC as the new launch date. Previously, the defective valve was replaced with a new one.

Due to this re- shifting had one of the four planned spacewalks to be canceled because the shuttle must have left the station back to the docking of Soyuz TMA -14, whose launch was carried out as planned on 26 March 2009 in time.

While refueling on March 15, there were no problems. The new valve worked flawlessly even after repeated opening and closing. Only a small problem on the junction of the fuel lines from the tank to the shuttle occurred. There, the pressure of a helium shielding gas plant was close to the lower limit, but could be set on the starting system manually match. The helium prevents ice formation of the joint. The crew left the Operations and Checkout Building on schedule and ascended the start prepare orbiter. Some time later, the hatch was closed and evacuated the starting system.

During the countdown, it was found that on the opposite side of the shuttle external fuel tanks a bat had settled. NASA checked whether this could pose a security risk for the shuttle if they would fall at the start against the heat shield. After a brief examination of this danger could be ruled out and it was the start of permitted with the bat on the tank. In the analysis of photographs of the shuttle launches, it was identified as a bulldog bat and found that she was still on the tank also during startup. Due to the acceleration of the shuttle, it is likely that it was demolished by the resulting increase in air resistance shortly after the start and in the hot exhaust gases of the main engines came to an end.

Since no other technical problems occurred and the weather was perfect, the Discovery off on schedule at 23:43 UTC. Two minutes after launch, the solid rocket boosters were jettisoned after eight minutes, the main engines were disabled and dropped ten seconds later, the outer tank.

The rest of the day the crew spent trying to make the Discovery space airworthy. These included the opening of the cargo bay doors and the activation of the RCS thrusters and maneuver the robot arm. Furthermore, the orbiter was raised by thruster firings by 60 km and brought from the initially strongly elliptical orbit into a more circular orbit.

The second flight day (17 March ) was dominated by various inspections. The most important of these was the investigation of the heat shield for damage to the front wing edges and the front tip of the Space Shuttle. For this purpose, an extension of the robot arm, the orbiter boom sensor system was used with specially designed instruments. In addition, the space suits, which are to be used during the three exits were examined and prepared as much as possible. Preparations have also been made ​​for the transfer between the shuttle and station, and the docking.

In the course of the day, it was found that the ergometer, the Discovery has a defect. The crew is used to counteract muscle atrophy during the flight. Until the repair of the equipment, the crew has to resort to alternative training methods and systems of the ISS.

The coupling of the shuttle was scheduled for the third flight day (17 March ). To a plurality of engine start has been performed to make the discovery of an appropriate intercept of the first half of the day. About an hour before the coupling there was the Discovery 200 m below the station to the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver (RPM), a 360 ° reverse role to perform. During this maneuver, the ISS crew is using 400 mm and 800 mm lenses high-resolution images from the lower heat shield of the shuttle, which are then checked for damage. The beginning of this maneuver was delayed by several minutes, was lost unexpectedly to communicate with the station. This was attributed to incorrect headsets. After the ISS again receive calls, but could not send one began with the RPM, but the communication was again lost, so that the ISS crew was not informed of the official start of the photo session. They started being split with photographing the heat shield. After the RPM, the Discovery proceeded in 70 meters distance in front of the station and began slowly to approach this. Coupling was carried out finally at 21:20 UTC. An hour and 49 minutes later, the hatches between the spacecraft were opened and the transfer began. The exchange of Sojussitzes by Sandra Magnus against Koichi Wakata was from about 01:00 UTC on March 18, making this change, the crew affiliation.

Work on the ISS

On the fourth flight day (18 March ), work began to install the S6 segment. To this end, several maneuvers were performed with the robotic arms of the shuttle and the station. First, Canadarm2 controlled seized by John Phillips and Sandra Magnus, S6 and removed the segment from the payload bay. Then S6 was passed on to the robotic arm of the shuttle, so Canadarm2 could be moved without risk to the equilibrium of the station or accelerated wear of the gyroscopes to starboard end of the station. S6 there was passed again and brought into a parking position in which it was left to the beginning of the next day alighting.

In addition to the interior station transfer activities and the operation of the robot arms were preparing to join the exit, which is performed by Steven Swanson and Richard Arnold. There the space suits to the station airlock Quest were transferred, assembled and fueled with oxygen. Furthermore, the tool bags were prepared. After a preliminary briefing to Swanson and Arnold went into the airlock to breathe pure oxygen overnight under reduced pressure. This so-called Campout reduces the level of dissolved nitrogen in the body tissue, thus preventing decompression sickness before.

The fifth flight day (March 19 ) began with the final preparations for the upcoming first exit. While Swanson and Arnold established their space suits and the last time checked, Phillips and Wakata moving the Stationsarm so that S6 was then removed only about 1.6 meters from its final position. 17:16 UTC off the astronauts in the airlock of their spacesuits to internal power supply to what marks the beginning of a US-based exit. They went then to starboard end of the station and had Phillips in the S6- assembly, so that the segment at 18:17 UTC reached its final position. Then it began to attach the segment and connecting the wiring. Also various starting mounts and heat mats were removed and the segment 's own radiator and the boxes in which the panels are mounted extended. The withdrawal ended after six hours and seven minutes at 23:23 UTC. The four remote thermal covers have been disposed of as space debris ( SatCat 34605-34608 ) and burned up March 31 to April 5 in the Earth's atmosphere.

Even before the start of the sixth flight days (March 20 ) was begun with the unfolding of the collectors. Both the front (Figure 3B) and the rear (1B ) collector were a so-called bay, the length of two mutually adjacent cells, is extended so that the collectors were able to adapt to the space environment. Under the eyes of both crews 1B was then extended to 49% and during an orbital day ( about 40 minutes) exposed in this position of the sun radiation. This should heat the collector and thus resolve any adhesions between the panels. Then, the collector was fully extended. The extension of 3B proceeded according to the same procedure. In between, we presented at the collector fixed deformation that eventually, however, should not impede the full extension. The crews then went on with other work. Among them was the repair of the ergometer of the shuttle, in which a component was hooked. Furthermore, were repairs to the urine processing system, a part of the U.S. water recycling system performed. There is a defect in a centrifuge was noted after the initial operation during the STS -126 mission, which is why the system was not working correctly. Finally, preparations were on for the second exit. According to Steven Swanson and Joseph Acaba spent the night in the airlock and led by another campout.

The withdrawal began on the seventh day of flying (21 March ) at 16:51 UTC after one of the four gyroscopes of the station was deactivated in preparation for the planned work. Swanson and Acaba went after leaving the airlock to the P6 segment at the left end of the station. There they prepared the replacement of batteries during the next ISS Shuttle mission STS -127. They tested the tools and stowed them on the spot. During this work, one of the three remaining gyroscopes failed, causing the minimum requirements below for the location of control and this task was taken over by the Discovery during the remaining exit. Then they went to the P3 segment to a docking point for external payloads ( UCCAS ) extend. However, the full extension was not possible, this was attributed to a blocking bolt holder. After several attempts they broke off the work and split up. Swanson went to the station 's Kibo segment and erected the last of two GPS antennas, which are to be used for the approach of the Japanese HTV. Acaba began meanwhile taking pictures of the S1 and P1 radiators in the visible and infrared light spectrum. The photographic documentation of the radiators was conducted to better understand, as a crack in one of the starboard panels affects the overall performance. Swanson went to the GPS antenna installation to the Z1 segment, there to work on a patch panel of the power supply of the gyroscopes. However, they were interrupted after some time and Swanson was sent back to P3, to secure the coupling point with some ropes. The withdrawal ended after exactly 6 hours and 30 minutes around 23:21 UTC. Due to the problems with the P3- coupling point, the extension of a counterpart to S3 had to be canceled.

In the station inside a dry run of the urine processor was performed. Station commander Michael Fincke reported that the volume level compared to the original part is much lower.

The first part of the eighth flight days, the crew members was made ​​freely available in order to recover from the strain of the past days. They took the time to talk with their family members. Fincke continued, meanwhile, continued the work on the urine processor and conducted a test run with urine. The replacement part worked properly, but the impact speed of the urine was greatly reduced. Work It broke off at first and exchanged some time later, the filter of the unit. Subsequently, a new test was started.

At 20:00 UTC an evasive maneuver was started to avoid a wreck part of a Chinese satellite with a diameter of about 10 cm. It had the same height as the train station, but came instead of 51.6 ° an orbital inclination of 98 ° and so would the station during the next exit and the following days two times per orbit dangerously close. Between 20:00 UTC and 20:30 UTC the Discovery performed a maneuver that turned the station by 180 ° and brought them into the Abdockposition. This position they maintained three hours and thus reduced the speed of the complex enough to avoid the wreckage. Since accurate data to the flight path of the wreck part later templates, this kind maneuvers but because of the occurring accelerations can not occur simultaneously with a spacewalk, NASA decided to preemptively perform the maneuver in front of the exit. After the maneuver, the discovery turned the complex back in -flight position and the preparations were added for the final exit. Among other things, Arnold and Arcaba received detailed information regarding the work on P3. On the basis of tests in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory ( zero buoyancy lab) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston conjectured that the problem could be solved with greater force. The team then went for a campout in the Quest airlock.

The third exit began on March 23, the ninth day of flying, at 16:34 UTC. At the beginning maneuvered Phillips and Wakata the CETA platform from P1 to S1, where it was subsequently engaged by Arnold and Arcaba. Then they tried again at the UCCAS adapter. The outstanding bolt had not been reason for the blockade, but also under greater force, the error did not resolve. The two astronauts fixed then the adapter in its semi- extended position with ropes that can withstand the space environment for extended periods. Since the cause of the problems was still unclear, and the assembly of the S1 counterpart was canceled. Subsequently, Acaba went back to the CETAS to attach a connector. Arnold went to the B- end of the robot arm to lubricate them. After some additional tasks of exit ended after 6 hours and 27 minutes around 22:04 UTC and brought the total time of the spacewalks of the mission at 19 hours and 4 minutes.

The system for water recovery from urine was tested successfully with liquid and brought the water recovered from the Discovery for laboratory tests with the earth.

On flight day ten ( 24 March) were performed the last transfer between the Discovery and the ISS did not have to wait until the last possible moment the. At 14:00 UTC a question and answer session with U.S. President Barack Obama, a school class and some members of Congress took place. The crews stopped at 17:00 UTC their traditional press conference, the rest of the day was left to the astronauts of Discovery.

Flight day eleven (25 March ) began with the final transfers. Mainly, these were for scientific results, which should be refrigerated as long as possible before they were brought to the Discovery. At 17:59 UTC, the crew will then have completed their joint work and the hatches between the spacecraft closed. After a total of 9 days, 20 hours and 10 minutes, the Discovery undocked from 19:53 UTC and moved away from the space station. Then took pilot Dominic Antonelli control and flew the Discovery in a circle around the station, so that the crew was able to document the progress photographically. After this maneuver, the engines were fired and the Discovery began to move away from the station.


Starting with Flugtag twelve (26 March ), preparations were made for landing. The crew began to stow loose items and performed a re-examination of the heat shield using the OBSS. On the 13th flight day (27 March ) stood the test the time required for landing systems in the foreground. These systems included the wing hydraulics and control nozzles. It further, no longer needed items were stowed and set up a special reclining seat for Sandra Magnus, who will suffer after 137 days on the ISS under muscle wasting. Further an engine ignition has been carried out, which reduced the level of the shuttle.

The landing was the 14th flight day ( March 28 ) at 17:39:42 UTC on the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center provided. Accordingly, the payload bay doors were closed shortly after 14:00 UTC. The first landing opportunity could not be used because of the weather conditions, as for landing maximum peak wind speed of 46.3 km / h ( 25 knots) was exceeded. However, should the weather improve in general, so that the crew was given clearance to deorbit burn shortly before 18:00 UTC for the second landing attempt. Prior to the astronauts had taken several liters of fluids in order to better adapt to gravity. The brake ignition began at 18:08 UTC, slowing the shuttle by 370 km / h The landing occurred at 19:13:17 UTC on runway 15 of the Shuttle Landing Facility. Shortly after landing drove a convoy security for shuttle to keep it cool and help the crew on the exit after it had shut down all the systems of the Space Shuttle. Furthermore, they secured the time-critical experiments, which are returned to the Discovery. The Discovery was a few hours later returned to the Orbiter Processing Facility to be there, ready for their next mission, STS -128.