Sunday, March 15, 2009

Discovery Lifts-off to the Space Station

The space shuttle Discovery departed Florida's beaches in a beautiful sun set launch on a flight to deliver more power generators to the international space station.

Discovery's solid rocket boosters ignited at 7:43:44 pm EDT this evening, minutes after the sun slipped out beyond the western horizon on a flawless ascent.

Two minutes later, the twin boosters seperated on time from the space shuttle's external tank, where they later fell back to earth to be reused on a future flight.

At the Kennedy Space Center, crowds gathered to watch a space shuttle lift-off - and for many it was their first. For those who have witnessed several, this launch was very beautiful and very spectacular to watch. [For myself, the colors of this launch were as beautiful as that of Endeavour's STS-77 sun rise launch in 1996.]

Discovery will fire her twin jets over the next day and a half to catch up with and later dock to the growing international space station. Locked down in the orbiter's payload bay is the S6 or starboard 6 truss segment. The S6 is the final twin set of huge solar arrays which will allow the station to have more power from the Sun to operate and run the new labs.

Beginning in late-May, the Station will become the home of six astronauts, as international crew members live for several months at a time - working and living - on this great outpost in space.

Following the S6 truss attachment to the station, Discovery's astronauts will perform three spacewalks to help attach power cables from the S6 to the station; and perform other house keeping chores to prepare for future spacewalks this June.

Upcoming for the crew:
  • 10:44 pm: Discovery begins Orbit 2
  • 11:25 pm: Check out of the shuttle's robot arm
  • 02:13 am: Crew begins sleep period

On Tuesday, the orbiter and space station will dock and begin one week of orbital operations in support of a larger more powerful space station, the brightest star in the earth's night sky.

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