Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Discovery 24 hours from STS-119 Liftoff

The launch of Discovery on space shuttle mission STS-119 is only twenty-four hours from lift-off from Launch Complex 39-A here at the Kennedy Space Center.

Discovery (right, at 9:08 pm ET), sits on her seaside launch pad bathed in a white spectrum of spot lights, as technicians finish cock pit switch settings; load the crew cabin with last minute crew and payload gear; and prepare for the rotating service structure's [RSS] rollback later tonight.

The RSS covers the orbiter on the pad and allows technicians to access difficult areas around the orbiter for maintenance or inspection detail.

Launch time on Wednesday evening is 9:20 pm EDT. This launch time is occurring at the best time during the middle of the ten minute launch window to save on fuel and time in catching up with and later docking to the international space station on Friday night.

Cape Weather Air Force officers are forecasting a 90% favorable weather prior to and at launch tomorrow. Earlier today, NASA Test Director Steve Payne stated, "We have no real concerns and we are ready for the exciting mission that lies ahead of us.”

Discovery's crew includes commander Lee Archambault, along with Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.

The seven member crew of Discovery have been awake for several hours.

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