Sunday, April 04, 2010

Shuttle Discovery hours from predawn Launch

Ground fog maybe the only concern as the countdown clocks tick closer to the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on Monday.

Air Force Weather Officer Kathy Winter on Saturday stated that there is an 80% chance of favorable weather at launch time tommorrow at 6:21:22 am EDT -- the middle of a five minute launch window.

It will be at that time when the International Space Station, Discovery's port-of-call, will be in the proper orbital plane for the shuttle so that uses less fuel to catch up with the station two days later.

The space station will pass over the Kennedy Space Center at 6:06 am followed by Discovery's departure fifteen minutes later when her twin rocket boosters ignite.

The seven member crew of Discovery will head to sleep at their living quarters here at Kennedy, and awaken at 8PM tonight to begin their launch day activities.

One hour later, the launch team will begin chilling down the fuel lines leading to the shuttle's rust colored external fuel tank as they begin loading some 535,000 gallons of supercold liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuels.

These hypergolic fuels will mix together at launch to power the three main engines on Discovery for nearly nine minutes.

Discovery's crew will be lead by commander Alan Poindexter. Pilot James Dutton and mission specialists Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) round out the crew.

As Discovery settles into a lower orbit than that of the orbital complex, it will spend nearly twenty hours manuvering and preparing to catch up with the station.

As the two fly to within 1000 feet apart, two of the six person crew on space station will use a 400-mm and 800-mm cameras to record images of the orbiter as it performs a backflip so that it's thermal belly tiles can be photographed.
Docking by the orbital duo is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

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