It was moving day Friday for the crew of Discovery, which transferred thousands of pounds (kilograms) of supplies and cargo from the space shuttle to the international space station. And there was good news: The astronauts earned an extra day in space.
The astronauts also fired up their inspection boom to survey six questionable areas on the shuttle's thermal skin. Flight director Tony Ceccacci said engineers want extra views of these areas to determine whether there is any serious damage and any need for repairs.
At a news conference, Ceccacci noted that Discovery has enough fuel to stay up an additional day in order to squeeze in an extra spacewalk for practicing thermal repairs. That stretches the flight to 13 days.
The astronauts moved a huge cargo container, nicknamed Leonardo, onto the space station by robotic arm. Among the goodies awaiting the space station crew were a new stationary bicycle for exercise, an oxygen generator that will eventually allow the space station to support six inhabitants, a machine that cools the station's cabin air and a lab freezer for scientific samples.
"Have fun putting a new room on the station today the float-in closet, every home needs one," flight controllers in Houston wrote the shuttle crew in a daily electronic message.
Unloading items 220 miles (354 kilometers) above Earth was more difficult than moving into a house because at least there is gravity on the ground, according to Steve Lindsey, Discovery's commander.
"It's really kind of a challenge because you're in zero-G ... you've got to go very, very slow because if you go fast, you kind of run into things and bump into other equipment," Lindsey said in interviews with reporters on the ground. "It's kind of an interesting choreography we have to go through."
For the first time in three years, the international space station has three crew members European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter of Germany on Thursday joined Russian Pavel Vingogradov and American Jeff Williams, who marked their 100th day at the space station Friday, reports AP.