Space Shuttle Schedule Booked Solid

The Space Shuttle Discovery astronauts are hard at work today installing a large and crucial solar array at the International Space Station. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell has more.

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This work is crucial, because if the array isn't installed properly and on time, it could cause problems for the installation in December of the European Space Agency's science laboratory, named Columbus. The lab will attach to the new Harmony module Discovery delivered last week.

Completion of the space station is now completely dependent on the space shuttle crews doing all their work on time, and getting the space shuttles up and down on a very tight schedule.ξ Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffridini says Discovery comes home next week, and Atlantis, carrying the Columbus module, will be launched exactly a month later on December 6th.ξ

"Today we are absolutely booked, from the time 10-A departs to December 6th when we plan to launch 1-A. We are absolutely booked. We're fully subscribed."ξ

Today's schedule does include some down time for the astronauts. The day started well for astronaut and Boston native Stephanie Wilson, who heard from Mission Control that her Red Sox had swept the World Series.

Discovery is to undock from the station Sunday and land on Tuesday, November 6th.ξ Mission managers have determined the orbiter's thermal shielding is in good shape for re-entry. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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