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Mission STS-131

STS-131  is the current Space Shuttle mission. It was launched on 5 April 2010 from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A. The mission is being flown by Space Shuttle Discovery.The primary payload is a Multi-Purpose Logistics Module loaded with supplies and equipment for the International Space Station. The mission will also remove and replace an ammonia tank assembly outside the station and return a Lightweight Adapter Plate Assembly (LWAPA) plate, located on the Columbus module. The mission also includes several on-board payloads; this mission has the most payloads since STS-107. Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off successfully at 06:21 EDT. After the eight and a half minute ride to space, Discovery’s seven person crew began configuring the orbiter from a launch vehicle to an orbital vehicle. Commander Alan Poindexter and pilot Jim Dutton, with help from mission specialist 2 Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, also performed a series of engine firings or burns to adjust their speed and refine their path to the International Space Station. While the engine burns were going on, the rest of the crew opened the payload bay doors, set up the computers and Ku  band antenna. The antenna suffered a failure during normal checkout and setup on orbit.  Due to the failure, the normal downlink of imagery of the external tank was not completed. The crew onboard will monitor the inspections of the thermal protection system (TPS) in real time and will note any spots of interest and let the ground know while downlinking the imagery after docking.[26]  The dish antenna also serves as a radar antenna, measuring the distance to the space station.

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