23 October 2007

Discovery (STS-120) launched

ZUI this article from Science Daily:
This evening, Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 11:38 local time (17:38 CEST) and successfully entered low Earth orbit after almost 8 minutes of powered flight. On this STS-120 mission, the third Shuttle flight this year, Discovery carries a crew of seven, including ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, from Italy.

The first day in space is devoted to a series of inflight inspections to ensure that Discovery did not suffer any damage during launch. The orbiter will then manoeuvre to rendezvous with the International Space Station (ISS). Docking is planned for 25 October at 14:33 CEST.

The purpose of the 14-day STS-120 mission is to deliver and install the Italian-built Node 2 module – the first addition to the Station’s work and living space for six years. A second main task is to relocate the ISS P6 truss section and deploy its solar arrays and heat dispersal radiator.

The mission will also see the rotation of one of the ISS Expedition crew members. NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, who has been a resident on the Station since arriving with the crew of STS-117 last June, will be replaced by NASA astronaut Daniel Tani.

And this from Space.com:
The shuttle's STS-120 crew, commanded by veteran spaceflyer Pamela Melroy, will install Harmony, ferry a new station crewmember to the ISS and move a massive solar power segment during a complicated 14-day spaceflight.

Once the mission is complete, the space station's Expedition 16 crew will begin a three-week work marathon to outfit Harmony with a shuttle docking port and move the module to the front of the ISS so NASA's shuttle Atlantis can dock in December to deliver Europe's Columbus laboratory. No less than 10 spacewalks by shuttle and ISS astronauts are planned before the end of the year.

The Guardian adds this:
The two-week mission will represent a historic milestone for Nasa - the first simultaneous command of two manned space missions by female astronauts.

The retired US air force colonel Pamela Melroy will lead six colleagues on a two-week flight to the orbiting international space station, currently controlled by the veteran astronaut Peggy Whitson.
NASA's official STS-120 site is here.

Discovery's crew for this mission consists of commander Col Pamela A Melroy (USAF, ret), pilot Col George D Zamka (USMC), and mission specialists Dr Scott E Parazynski, Col Douglas H Wheelock (USA), Stephanie D Wilson and Maj Paolo A Nespoli (Italian Army Reserve). As noted above, the shuttle is also ferrying Daniel M Tani up to the station. Tani is scheduled to return aboard Atlantis (STS-122) in December.

Left to right: Melroy, Tani, Zamka, Wheelock,
Parazynski, Wilson and Nespoli

Expedition 16, the current crew on board the space station, consists of Peggy A Whitson, Col Yuri I Malenchenko (Russian Air Force), and Clayton Anderson.

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