Tuesday, August 25, 2009

LAUNCH DAY: Discovery to try again Tonight

On the heels of a launch scrub earlier this morning, the launch team here at the Kennedy Space Center will try again to get the space shuttle Discovery off the ground on Wednesday morning on a resupply flight to the international space station.

Low clouds, rain and lightning within 20 miles from Discovery's launch pad forced both Cape weather and Houston's Spaceflight Meteorology Group to be no-go to resume the countdown at the T-9 minute hold at 1:26 am EDT this morning.

NASA has recycled the count and will try again beginning tonight to launch Discovery at 1:10:22 am EDT. The launch window is short -- only five minutes.

The Air Force weather office here at Cape Canaveral is calling for 70% favorable weather at launch time for Discovery (above, at 8AM today).

Discovery's 37th crew in 25 years includes mission commander Rick Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford, and mission specialists Jose Hernandez, Patrick Forrester, John "Danny" Olivas, Christer Fuglesang (European Space Agency) and Nicole Stott.

A few launch milestones tonight (EDT):
  • 2:30p -- Crew awakes to begin launch day
  • 3:30p -- External tank fueling begins
  • 8:40p -- Weather briefing by commander, pilot and mission specialist 2
  • 8:50p -- Astronauts don flight suits
  • 9:20p -- Depart for launch pad
  • 9:50p -- Arrive at White Room and begin ingress
  • 11:10p -- Close Discovery's crew hatch
  • 1:01:22 am -- T-9 minutes and counting
  • 1:02:52 am -- Crew access arm retraction
  • 1:05:22 am -- APU Start by pilot
  • 1:10:16 am -- Main Engines start
  • 1:10:22 am -- SRB Ignition - launch commit!
Once in space, Discovery's crew will open the huge 60-foot payload bay doors. They will then turn the crew cabin from rocket mode into an orbital space platform by setting up laptop computers and stowing launch seats. And, they will prepare for late-Wednesday's thermal protection system survey using the ship's robotic arm.

Thursday will be docking day as Discovery approaches and then docks with the space station as they travel 220 miles over southern Russia.

Stott, a former KSC orbiter process worker turned astronaut, will begin her stay aboard the space station as a member of the Expedition 20 crew. She will replace Tim Kopra who arrived for a six-week stay on July 17. Stott will return home aboard the next space shuttle flight in late-November.

(Be sure to watch the countdown and launch LIVE via our widescreen TV available at SpaceLaunchNews.com.)

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