14 September 2010

Discovery preparing for final flight

I've been more than a little remiss in paying attention to the space programme this last twelve months, having missed events such as the STS-129 (16-27 Nov 09), STS-130 (8-21 Feb 10), STS-131 (5-20 Apr 10) and STS-132 (14-26 May 10; last scheduled flight of space shuttle Atlantis and second spaceflight for CAPT Steve Bowen, the second American submariner in space) flights.

STS-129 (space shuttle Atlantis): Mission specialist Leland D Melvin, commander Charles O Hobaugh, mission specialist Michael Foreman, mission specialist Robert Satcher, pilot Barry E Wilmore and mission specialist Randolph Bresnik. (They were joined for the return flight by mission specialist Nicole Stott, who travelled to the space station aboard STS-128.)

STS-130 (Endeavour): Mission specialist Nicholas Patrick, pilot Terry Virts, mission specialist Robert L Behnken, mission specialist Kathryn P Hire, commander George D Zamka and mission specialist Stephen Robinson.

STS-131 (Discovery): Mission specialist Rick Mastracchio, mission specialist Stephanie Wilson, pilot James Dutton, mission specialist Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, commander Alan Poindexter, mission specialist Naoko Yamazaki (JAXA) and mission specialist Clayton Anderson.

STS-132 (Atlantis): Mission specialist Garrett Reisman, commander Kenneth Ham and mission specialist Stephen G Bowen (seated, left to right); and mission specialist Michael T Good, pilot Tony Antonelli and mission specialist Piers Sellers (standing, left to right).

Discovery will be making its final flight this fall. ZUI this NASA press release:
NASA's Shuttle Discovery To Make Its Final Trip To Launch Pad

Journalists are invited to cover space shuttle Discovery’s last move from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) to Launch Pad 39A on Sept. 20 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Six astronauts are set to launch aboard the shuttle on Nov. 1. The

STS-133 mission to the International Space Station is the final scheduled flight for Discovery before it is retired.

Live coverage of Discovery's rollout will air on NASA Television beginning at 8 p.m. EDT. NASA TV’s Video File will broadcast highlights of the move.

Discovery's first motion out of the VAB to the pad is scheduled for 8 p.m. The shuttle's 3.4- mile journey atop a giant crawler-transporter is expected to take approximately six hours.


The 11-day mission will be the 35th flight to the station and the 39th flight for Discovery. The mission will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4 - an external platform that holds large equipment - and critical spare components for the space station. Discovery also will deliver Robonaut 2, or R2, to become a permanent resident of the station as the first human-like robot in space.

(Yes, the extra line feeds in the first paragraph appear in the actual press release.)

The STS-133 crew consists of mission specialists Col Tim Kopra (USAF) and Col Alvin Drew (USAF), pilot Col Eric Boe (USAF), commander Col Steve Lindsey (USAF, ret), and mission specialists Dr Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott (left to right in photo below). This - the 164th American manned space flight as well as the 133d space shuttle mission - will be the fifth space flight for Lindsey and the second for each of the others.

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