August 5, 2005 at 4:41 PM CDT - Updated July 2 at 12:30 AM
It's been two and a-half years since a garbage pickup at the International Space Station, and astronauts have had their hands full today.
Discovery's crew lowered an immense container filled with garbage, broken equipment and other cargo into Discovery's bay today.
The packing has been tedious and time-consuming. Astronauts had to ask Mission Control what to do with a big piece of white foam that wouldn't fit in a bag. Mission Control replied that indeed, the piece "is not tiny." After some thought, engineers told astronauts to cut it up.
The Discover is picking up a bigger garbage load than usual because it's been so long since a shuttle flight. The station has been relying on smaller Russian ships for restocking and trash hauling.
Mission managers have cleared the shuttle to fly home next week, after deciding against a spacewalk to fix a torn piece of thermal blanket.