The astronauts from the 39th crew of the space shuttle Discovery got a call from the President on the eighth day of their mission, the last the aging spacecraft will fly.
President Barack Obama spoke to the crew of both Discovery and the International space Station at about 4:03 p.m. Central Standard Time, towards the end of the astronauts' day. The call aired live on NASA TV.
I just wanted to tell you personally how proud I am of you guys. I'm always inspired by the images of you guys at work putting together the final pieces in place to make the ISS operational. You are setting an example of dedication, courage and commitment to exploration. These are the traits that built America, Obama said.
The President talked directly to ISS commander Scott Kelly, who is the brother of Mark Kelly and brother-in-law of senator Gabrielle Giffords, recently victimized by an attempted assassin. Obama gave commander Kelly an update on Giffords saying she has made progress.
Obama also chatted with Discovery commander Steve Lindsey about R2, the first humanoid robot in space as well as the last flight of the historic space shuttle Discovery,
Commander Lindsey, it must be an honor to be the last commander of the space shuttle Discovery, which has traveled more distance than any of its peers in shuttle fleet and is the appropriate space shuttle in fulfilling this iconic mission, Obama said.
Since NASA announced the Discovery mission has been extended an extra day, Lindsey said the astronauts had figured out that it by the time it ends, the space shuttle will have flown for 365 days in total.
The extension gives the crew more time to unpack and outfit the Permanent Multipurpose Module and fill the H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV-2) with trash before its planned late-March undocking. As a result, the 13-day mission will wrap up on Wednesday, March 9.
The eighth day of Discovery's mission was one of the more relaxing ones for the crew. They awoke to City of Blinding Lights by U2 and enjoyed a half-day off. This comes after the second, and final, space walk, which was performed yesterday by mission specialists Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen.
The crew spoke to the media and performed some maintenance on the ISS. Kelly and flight engineer Cady Coleman did work on the carbon dioxide removal assembly on the U.S. side of the station. The CDRA removes carbon dioxide from the station's air. The Russian Vozdukh, which also removes carbon dioxide, has been down for repair but became operational again today.
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