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Shuttle Discovery’s Launch: a Perfect Day, a Beautiful Sight.

Posted by Lydia on February 24th, 2011

These launches always bring tears to my eyes.

I contemplate the beauty of the launch, the marvel of scientific advances, the physical and mental strength of all astronauts to handle such a strenuous ride into space aboard such a powerful machine; the TRUST we all have in science and the men and women of all entities involved in getting our astronauts safely to their destination and home again; the memorable experiences that are relayed by the space travelers, to us who remained at home on our Blue Planet and peered into space every day and night thinking about the ISS and  all who have made it their temporary home. I contemplate the future of the space program and ask: “What is next?”

No doubt about it: It was a spectacular launch.

……………

We are now at Negative Return!

As Discovery passed through “max Q,” the main engines, APUs and fuel cells performed “on the money”. Freedom Star and Liberty Star will retrieve the fallen rocket boosters.

COMING UP ON GO SEQUENCE START!

T- 3: WE ARE GO FOR LAUNCH !

T-5 : All systems GO and weather is perfect for launch.

T-7 minutes, 30 seconds and counting. The walkway access is removed. The ground launch sequencer (GLS) is now monitoring orbiter functions.

T-9: Discovery Crew has been informed of NO GO status. We are patiently awaiting resolution to the issue on hand.

UPDATE: 1532: At this point the Range Safety Officer has declared a NO GO due to Central Command Computer Problems. We are on hold at this time hoping the issue is resolved.

UPDATE: 1506: The Launch Clock is on its final hold. Meanwhile the Closeout Crew has found a small tile which was dislodged from the hatch area. It is doubtful whether this will cause a reset to the Launch Clock.

UPDATE: 1402 Central Time: Discovery’s hatch closed after inner and outer seals cleaned. Seal pressurization and cabin leak checks will follow. A review of the White Room will then be completed, locking away any equipment covers and other contents. Portions of the White Room walls will be folded down as well. The two member team Closeout Crew wear harnesses to protect them from the 200 feet drop off the White Room open edge. There is a built in ten minute hold on the Launch Clock after this section is completed.

UPDATE: 1326 Central time: Crew members are being seated and are undergoing communication checks.Crew Module Closeout is complete and the next few minutes the Closeout Crew will be checking to see if there’s anything that should be removed before saying goodbye and closing the hatch. Looks like Launch is still set for 1550 hours. More updates to follow.

…..

Today, 24 February, 2011 on or about 1650 Eastern Time, 1550 Central Time, NASA will launch the Space Shuttle Discovery after numerous scrubs since November last year, due to hydrogen leaks, structural cracks, and weather delays. This will be Discovery’s 39th and final mission to the ISS. The first human-like robot, lovingly named R2, developed jointly by NASA and General Motors, will accompany the crew and become a permanent resident aboard the International Space Station. Discovery’s well trained and experienced crew escorting the 11 day mission is: Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Mike Barrett, Steve Bowen and Nicole Stott. Mission Specialist Bowen is replacing Tim Kopra who was injured in a bicycle accident last month.

Discovery’s maiden launch took place on Aug. 30, 1984, on mission 41-D with the goal to deploy three communications satellites. Discovery has completed 30 successful missions, more than any other orbiter in NASA’s Shuttle fleet. Ninety nine successful upgrades and eighty eight special safety tests have been performed on Discovery  since 2002.

Discovery’s name is quite distinctive and holds quite of bit of historical value. Discovery is the name Henry Hudson chose for his ship with which he explored Hudson Bay and searched for a northwest passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific in the 1600’s. In the 1700’s British Captain James Cook voyaged to the South Pacific and came across the Hawaiian Islands. Expeditions to the North Pole and Antarctica were made by British Royal Geographical Society ships baptized with the name “Discovery”.

International Space Station Trivia: The ISS has been aloft for over 4479 days with cumulative crew time of more than 3766 days.

Claim your viewing area now for another spectacular shuttle launch.

NASA TV is a good place to start.

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