Monday, March 09, 2009

Two Days Until Launch: Discovery's Ready

As the countdown for the next space shuttle flight began last night, there was a "feel-good" mood here at the Kennedy Space Center that echoed through every hard working technician a sense of pride that Wednesday's launch will show how their commitment to the space program has made this flight possible.

The month of February was spent investigating and later replacing the much talked about gaseous hydrogen [GH2] flow valves and whether Discovery's three were as cracked as the previous shuttle mission's were. Discovery will fly with newer GH2 valves that have flown on less flights than Discovery's original three.

At 7:00 pm EDT, the countdown began counting down for the first space shuttle mission of 2009 - and the first flight under the Obama administration.

Earlier, the seven member flight crew arrived here at KSC, and then headed off to the Operations & Checkout building - their living quarters for the next few days. Hours later, the mission's commander and pilot - Lee Archambault and Tony Antonelli - then boarded a Gulfstream II jet to practice a few touch and go's here at the Shuttle Landing Facility. The Gulfstream handles similar to the orbiter as they take the jet up and then nose dive toward the runway with little power with either the commander or pilot taking turns at the stick.

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