Thursday, November 04, 2010

Rain Showers push Discovery's Launch to Friday

Discovery waits out rain showers this morning. (NASA)

The much delayed launch of the space shuttle Discovery will have to wait again until Friday as rain showers are forecast to fall through launch time here on America's Space Coast.

NASA Mission Managers met this morning at 5:30 am EDT to access the weather. Rain and a low cloud ceiling will cover the Kennedy Space Center through the entire day today. It is forecast to clear over night tonight bringing cooler, drier weather for Friday.

Launch of Discovery on her 39th and final voyage upon the ocean of space is set now for Friday afternoon at 3:04:00 pm -- the launch window is five minutes.

Technical issues with fuel and gas leaks in the orbiter's right OMS pod and a bad fuse for a main engine back up controller has delayed lift-off from Nov. 1.

Last evening, mission managers elected to proceed with a launch attempt for today knowing that their meeting to access the weather would ultimately scrub launch for 24 hours.

At 8PM on Thursday, space center technicians began the thirty minute job to rollback the protective service structure from around the space craft and into the launch position.

Air Force meteorologist Kathy Winters is currently giving an 60% favorable forecast leading toward launch time tomorrow.

A cloud ceiling and upper level winds could be of concern within 30 miles of the launch pad.
Head winds in the event of an RTLS (Return to Launch Site Abort) will also be looked at tomorrow.

Saturday's forecast shows higher winds being more of a concern, with Sunday looking better weather wise.

NASA needs to launch the 26 year-old spacecraft before November 7 or risk keeping her on earth until the opening days of December. This is due to sun angles on the station through out November which can cause instruments to over heat.

Once launched, Discovery's all veteran crew of commander Steven Lindsey, pilot Eric Boe and mission specialists Timothy Kopra, Michael Barratt, Nicole Stott and Alvin Drew will spend two days performing rendezvous maneuvers to catch up with and dock with the International Space Station.

Two days after her launch, Discovery will arrive at the Space Station to begin eight days of docked operations to resupply with food, fuel and hardware; and add the final U.S. segment to the growing city in space.

Discovery will deliver the final American segment known as the Permanent Multipurpose Module, a bus sized cylindrical segment which will be used for storage. It will help free up more space inside the station's working and living segments for the crew of six.

Formally known as the Leonardo logistics module, the PMM has actually flown to station several times most recently two flights ago.

Inside the PMM will be 6500 pounds of cargo, spare parts, R2 - a robo-naut which will be used outside the outpost; and personal crew supplies to help resupply earth's orbiting outpost in space. Discovery's middeck will carry another 1500 pounds of supplies, too.

Robonaut will remain in the PMM through Discovery's flight, and will later be moved so that it's two halves can be mated together and placed outside the station in the weeks to come.

Kopra and Drew will also perform two spacewalks during this 35th shuttle flight to earth's orbital outpost, on flight days 5 and 7.

This will mark Discovery's final space flight. NASA only has only two more space shuttle flights left after Discovery, with Endeavour flying her final scheduled flight on February 27, and Atlantis by next autumn.

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