February 23, 2011
Busy days in Earth orbit.
Space Shuttle Discovery is set to make its last voyage tomorrow, with liftoff planned for 4:50 p.m. Florida time. If all goes according to plan, Europe’s Johannes Kepler unmanned cargo vehicle will have docked with the space station earlier in the day (at 10:45 U.S. Eastern time—watch the docking live here). Astronaut Paolo Nespoli took this terrific snapshot of the cargo craft from onboard the space station, shortly after its launch on February 16.
The two launches follow dockings to the space station by Japanese and Russian supply vehicles in recent weeks. In fact, there’s been so much traffic lately that Russian and U.S. space station managers are considering a plan to have astronauts fly around the station in a Soyuz vehicle next month to take first-time photos of all the international partners’ vehicles docked to the station at the same time.