Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Live at KSC: Discovery Set for VAB Move

Blogger update, 2:30 p.m.: Rollover has begun. Discovery is backing out of the hangar.

Blogger update, 1:30 p.m.: Rain showers at KSC have subsided and the doors to Discovery's processing hangar are opening, a positive sign that rollover could begin soon.

Blogger update, 12:45 a.m.: A decision on when to roll Discovery to the VAB will follow a 1:30 p.m. weather briefing. NASA says there's a 40 percent chance of showers between noon and 4 p.m. "Most likely we would wait until after 4 p.m.," said Candrea Thomas, a KSC spokeswoman. "But if there's a big break in the weather, we'll take advantage of it."

Blogger update, 9:30 a.m.: Discovery's rollover to the VAB now is expected to start after 11 a.m., possibly later.

United Space Alliance technicians are inspecting an electrical cable to ensure it is not interfering with landing gear on the orbiter's right side.

The possibility of rain could delay the rollover further. Stay tuned to the The Flame Trench for updates.

Space shuttle Discovery today is scheduled to begin a quarter-mile move to the Vehicle Assembly Building at 9 a.m., slightly later than planned yesterday.

Workers at Kennedy Space Center changed an orbiter tire that had lost pressure, causing a delay of about two hours.

A 76-wheeled transporter nearly 107 feet in length will carry Discovery from its 50,000 square-foot processing hangar, Orbiter Processing Facility Bay No. 3.

The "rollover" sets in motion the year's first shuttle mission, targeted for launch from KSC on Feb. 12.

Once secure in the 52-story assembly building, Discovery will be attached to an external tank and twin solid rocket boosters on a mobile launcher platform.

The shuttle and launcher platform are expected to be rolled several miles to launch pad 39A next Wednesday Jan. 14.

Also today, Discovery's payload is scheduled to be placed in the giant canister used to transport to the launch pad cargo that will be placed in a shuttle's payload bay.

Discovery's seven-person crew will install a 31,000-pound girder on the International Space Station, completing its central backbone and adding the final pair of power-generating American solar wings.

The image above shows the truss in the process of being loaded into the canister in the space center's Space Station Processing Facility.

Lee Archambault is commander of the STS-119 mission. He's joined by pilot Tony Antonelli and mission specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold and Koichi Wakata.

Wakata, a Japanese astronaut, will replace American Sandra Magnus as a space station crew member. Magnus flew to the station in November aboard Endeavour, the last shuttle mission of 2008.

IMAGE NOTE: Click on the images to enlarge them. The image of Discovery shows the orbiter ready for the rollover to the Vehicle Assembly Building on April 26, 2008, in preparation for its STS-124 mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder.


Anonymous said...

Can we really fly 22 of these in six years? Given the complications. The report in today's paper says nine current missions plus 13 more. That's 22 over about six years. That's more than four per year. Are they averaging about three per year. They keep saying they can fly four or five or six per year but there's been no evidence of that since the accident in 2003, right? The rate's been lower. So at three per year, can they do 22 missions through 2015.

Joe Johnson said...

Space discoveries weren't as remarkable as they used to be. It's either we've cut back on space program investments or the bar for "remarkable" has been raised significantly.. or both.
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