STS -128 (English Space Transportation System) is a term for a flight mission of the U.S. Space Shuttle Discovery ( OV- 103), NASA. The launch took place on 29 August 2009, at 03:59 UTC.

During this mission, the Multi- Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo was used to bring supplies and equipment to the International Space Station. It was also including the new training device for astronauts COLBERT, a tribute to the American comedian Stephen Colbert, see also naming the ISS module, Tranquility. Furthermore, it was with the help of a special freight carrier ( LMC) brought and installed an ammonia tank for the exchange to the ISS.

Three spacewalks were performed: the first by Olivas and Stott, the following two Olivas and Fuglesang by.

  • 2.1 start-up delays
  • 3.1 Start, Rendezvous and coupling
  • 3.2 Work on the ISS
  • 3.3 Return
  • 3.4 Transfer to Florida


The crew was announced by NASA on July 15, 2008:

  • Frederick Sturckow (4th space flight), Commander
  • Kevin Ford ( first space flight), Pilot
  • John Olivas ( second space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Patrick Forrester ( third space flight), Mission Specialist
  • José Hernández ( first space flight), Mission Specialist
  • Christer Fuglesang ( second space flight), Mission Specialist (ESA / Sweden)

ISS crew Departure

ISS Expedition 20

  • Nicole Stott ( first space flight ), aircraft engineer

ISS Crew Return

ISS Expedition 20

  • Timothy Kopra ( first space flight), flight engineer


After their final mission STS -119 Discovery was pulled into her Orbiter Processing Facility, where the routine inspections and repairs took place. The stacking of the solid rocket boosters began in late May 2009, followed by the outer tank about a month later. After a few repairs, the Discovery was transferred on July 26 to the Vehicle Assembly Building and assembled in the following days at the outer tank. On August 4, the Discovery to the launch 39A was rolled. A day later, the astronauts flew to the launch site in order to participate in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test. They learned how to deal with the life-saving equipment at the launch site and simulated a countdown. The outer tank due to some tests were the starting problems with the foamed insulation, which have occurred during the last mission is performed. In the tensile test specimens required strength values ​​were achieved, so that when the next flight readiness decrease ( Flight Readiness Review ) of the start on August 25 was confirmed. On the evening of August 19 (local time) the team at Kennedy Space Center arrived, the countdown began two days later.

Start-up delays

The weather forecast looked for August 25th with 80 % quite positive, but the situation changed in the course of the day and the probability dropped to 40%. Since the start time of multiple weather rules were violated, a 24 -hour shift was arranged. This renewed attempt, however, had to be canceled at the end of the tank phase because the confirmation for correct closure of the entry and exhaust valve for liquid hydrogen materialize. There were plans for a renewed attempt to start on August 28. After complete emptying of the hydrogen tank was opening and closing the valve to successfully five times in succession, so that the functionality could be confirmed. However, the mission leadership opted for a further 24 -hour shift to make elaborate plans if the problem should occur with the valve again.

Mission History

Start, Rendezvous and coupling

Since both the valve and the weather, giving no problems, the Discovery was finally able to take off on 29 August at 03:59:37 UTC. After two minutes, the burned solid fuel rockets were dropped, after three minutes for almost two minutes activates the OMS engines and off the main engines after eight and a half minutes. Ten seconds later, the outer tank was separated. The astronauts then started to prepare Discovery for work in orbit. This included the activation of the ventilation in the Leonardo module and the activation of the robot arm. The second flight day ( August 29 and 30 ) was the inspection of the heat shield with the Orbiter Boom Sensor System. In addition, the space suits have been tested and made ​​preparations for the rendezvous.

On the third flight day ( 30 and 31 August ) the rendezvous of two spacecraft took place. The first time the new TriDAR sensor was used for navigation during the Rendezvous Pitch Maneuvers and the subsequent coupling of the delivered via camera and LIDAR precise location data, so that the otherwise occupied by the radar Ku- band antenna instead for the transmission of live could be used images. Because of a leak, the front fine control jets were during the docking with the ISS not available, so for the first time had to be flown a docking of the Shuttle to the ISS with the 36 -fold thrust harder main nozzles of the Reaction Control System. For the maneuver 265 kg of fuel were needed were planned 34 kg. The coupling was at 00:54 UTC. About 1 hour and 40 minutes later, the hatches have been opened. After a welcome and an introduction by the station crew of Sojussitz by Timothy Kopra was replaced with the Nicole Stott, making them officially changed the crew affiliation. Nicole Stott was, while Tim Kopra moved onboard engineer of the ISS Expedition 20 to STS -128.

Work on the ISS

The fourth flight day ( 31 August and 1 September), was the transfer of the Leonardo module to the earth facing coupling point of the Harmony module. Kevin Ford and Mike Barrat used the robotic arm of the station and taken Leonardo. Coupling was carried out at 21:56 UTC. A few hours later the hatch was opened. Meanwhile, Bill was brought from the shuttle to the station, especially the spacesuits and tools for the upcoming EVA by the crew. Afterwards, Nicole Stott and Danny Olivas went into the Quest 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.

On the fifth day of flying ( September 1 and 2 ), the first withdrawal took place, which was done by Danny Olivas and Nicole Stott. The two first dismantled a nearly depleted ammonia tank on the station boom P1. The cooling system for the station belonging tank was then taken by the robotic arm of the station and placed there temporarily. The tank remained in this position until the final installation in the cargo bay of the shuttle during the next EVA with Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang. In a subsequently mounted footpresser Nicole Stott rode on Stationsarm to Columbus module. There the experiments EuTEF and MISSE 6 were removed and attached to the return in the cargo hold of the Discovery of her and Olivas. During the 6 hours and 35 -minute exit all planned work could be done. Meanwhile, first transfers between Leonardo and the ISS has begun to carry out. There was an air renewal system, a crew cabin and the treadmill COLBERT placed in the station.

The sixth mission day ( September 2 and 3 ) was used for the further equipment for the International Space Station. Important research tools such as the fluid and material research racks FIR ( fluid Integrated Rack) and MSFD -1 (Materials Science Research Rack ) and the special freezer MELFI -2 (Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS) were transferred by Leonardo in the space laboratory Destiny. The next two space -goers Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang prepared their spacesuits and tools and spent in preparation for the next night's sleep during the EVA campout in the airlock. For September 4th, 15:07 UTC there was a risk of a dangerous rapprochement between the space station and a defunct Sylda -5 dual launch adapter ( COSPAR designation 2006- 033C ) of an Ariane flight. A pulled consider evasive action was canceled shortly before taking place on the seventh day of flying ( September 3 and 4 ) second EVA, as considered on the basis of sufficiently accurate orbit data, the distance of 1.3 km, was safe enough.

In the 6 hours and 39 -minute exit installed Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang brought the ammonia tank and stowed the empty tank in the cargo bay of the shuttle. These solved the two full tank of lightweight cargo carrier ( LMC) in the cargo bay of the shuttle. Fuglesang then rode on a foot holder on Stationsroboterarm with the tank in hand to the installation of the lattice structure P1. The full tank with a mass of 833 kg ( 1836 lbs ) is the most massive object that has been moved by astronauts manually. Since the tank in orbit, although weightless, but still has a high inertia, had to be taken very carefully. So the maneuver lasted 30 minutes. Then the new tank was mounted by both astronauts and connect the connection cables. After that Olivas secured with a mobile foot brace at the station and handed the empty tank, which has now been released from the head of the Stationsarms, hand to Fuglesang. This now floated with the empty tank in hand on the Stationsarm the cargo bay of Discovery to fix it together with Olivas on the lightweight freight structure ( LMC). The empty tank is refilled on earth and taken to the station with STS -131 again.

The first half of the eighth flight day ( September 4 and 5 ) was the crew released until the beginning of the traditional press conference. The combined crew of STS- 128 and ISS Expedition 20 answered questions from journalists from the U.S., Canada and Europe. The mixture was then started to load cargo for return to Earth in the now empty Logistics Module. Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang spent the night resting at the campout in the Quest airlock.

On the ninth mission day ( September 5 and 6 ), the third and final EVA took place. Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang began their second joint exit 20:39 UTC. First they brought the payload attachment system PAS ( Payload Attachment System) from the lattice structure of S3, which is used when the next mission STS -129. After the two exchanged a defective position control unit ( rate gyro assembly ), and an isolating switch ( Remote Power Control Module) to the structure S0 and installed two GPS antennas. On the Unity module an old guide line has been removed for space -goers. In preparation for the arrival of the new connection node Tranquility had on the outside of the station two 18 -meter-long data cables are installed. In a cable set the connector did not fit, so they were backed with insulating sleeves and termination of a task had to be postponed to a later mission. External works ended after seven hours and one minute at 03:40 UTC.

On the tenth day ( September 6 and 7 ), the transfer work between Leonardo and the station has been completed. Then took the shuttle crew to give the free time to television interviews with operators in their home. On the eleventh day of flying ( September 7 and 8 ), the MPLM was returned and secured with the Stationsarm in the cargo bay of the shuttle. Leonardo transported around 1,100 kg of equipment to the earth in the middle deck of the shuttle approximately 390 kg were also stowed. After a short farewell ceremony, the hatches between the shuttle and station were closed at 03:41 UTC.


The separation of the Discovery of the International Space Station took place on the twelfth day of flying ( 8 and 9 September ) after 8 days, 18 hours and 32 minutes at 19:26 UTC. The shuttle orbited the station at a distance of about 120 meters, to survey and photograph the ISS. At 21:09 UTC the Space Shuttle remote definitively from the space station. Shortly afterwards, the late inspection of the heat shield began using the OBSS. The discovery brought a total of 2.5 tons of samples, used equipment and trash home. On the following 13th day of flying ( September 9 and 10 ) the landing systems have been tested and stowed unneeded equipment. Presented for Tim Kopra the crew a special reclining seat in order to facilitate their adaptation to gravity after more than 50 days in weightlessness.

The 14th flight day ( September 10 and 11 ) offered two landing opportunities. Here, the mission leadership had set at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The two occasions at 23:04 UTC and 00:40 UTC, however, had to be canceled due to bad weather in the area of ​​Cape Canaverals.

The next landing facilities on the 15th day of flying ( September 11 and 12 ) are also offered in Florida. Both had to be canceled due to thunderstorms again and unstable weather conditions. In addition, this time the Edwards Air Force Base in California has been activated. The first way in California in the next orbit around 00:53 UTC was then used for landing. At 20:30 UTC, the payload bay doors were closed and the team began with the procedures for re-entry. In addition to creating their rescue suits and strapping on their seats, the crew members took large amounts of fluid and salt tablets to be to allow the circulation systems, a better adaptation to gravity. The brake ignition was 23:47 UTC initiated, and the Discovery plunged into the denser layers of the atmosphere after half orbit of the earth. Here, the flight control program performed a series of maneuvers in side position to support the deceleration of the orbiter.

During the re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, the Boundary Layer Experiment to study the flow was carried out at hypersonic speed. By an obstacle on the otherwise smooth surface of the heat shield, the protective boundary layer is locally disturbed, and the resulting temperature increases examined. To this end, under a wing of the Discovery a small flow obstacle and multiple temperature sensors were installed. An overall picture of the temperature distribution was also recorded by a about 50 km downstream of the shuttle flying P3 Orion aircraft with an infrared camera. The experiment was the development of heat protection of the new Orion spacecraft.

The Discovery, with its seven-member crew landed on 12 September at 12:53 UTC on the start and runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base after 13 days, 20 hours and 54 minutes in space. Then a convoy secured the ferry and helped the crew on the exit. After a medical check led the team with the exception of Tim Kopra by their traditional walk around the orbiter. The next day, the crew flew to the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Transfer to Florida

The return of the Discovery to Florida with the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft NASA 911 was held one week after the landing. To prepare the shuttle was lifted with a special lifting frame ( Mate - demate Device) on the plane and provided to reduce the air resistance with an aerodynamic engine cover. The 4600 km long flight was divided into four stages, with refueling stops at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport from / Texas, Carswell Field Airport in Fort Worth / Texas and Barksdale AFB in Shreveport / Louisiana. The airport in Amarillo is named after the commander Rick Husband of the injured in the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia.

After the start in Edwards AFB just before sunrise on September 20 at 13:22 UTC, the transport arrived on Sunday afternoon at 22:39 UTC Barksdale AFB after 4 hours and 40 minutes total flight time to spend the night there. The next day the team landed after the last two and half hour stage at 16:06 UTC at the Kennedy Space Center. The maximum altitude of 4575 meters ( 15,000 ft) made ​​sure that the disconnected systems have not been exposed to the space shuttle at low temperatures. The transport aircraft flew a McDonnell Douglas DC- 9-30 as a guide plane 15 minutes ahead to be able to fly around damaging rain areas safe for the heat shield of the space shuttle. The cost of about 1.8 million U.S. dollars were mainly caused by the fuel.

After landing at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida, the shuttle carrier aircraft was separated with an identical lifting device as in California by the Space Shuttle. The Discovery was then towed to its hangar, where it was unloaded and prepared for its next mission, STS -131.