Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Discovery "go" for Tuesday launch

NASA has officially set shuttle Discovery's launch for 1:36 a.m. Tuesday.

The launch window extends through Sunday, Aug. 30.

Agency executives concluded their final flight readiness review with a unanimous vote supporting a Tuesday launch shortly before 11 a.m., according to a NASA post on Twitter.

They are expected to host an 11:30 a.m. news conference at Kennedy Space Center to discuss the decision and the results, which you can watch live here by clicking the NASA TV still image at right.

The briefing participants are:
- Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations
- John Shannon, Space Shuttle Program manager
- Pete Nickolenko, STS-128 launch director

They will likely explain their confidence that Discovery's external tank is safe for launch, which was the primary concern heading into the readiness review.

Engineers closely studied two parts of the tank where potentially dangerous pieces of foam shed from Endeavour's tank during a launch last month.

Those areas were the ridged "intertank" structure that connects the liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen fuel tanks, and a set of metal brackets that hold pressurization lines near the top of the 15-story tank.

Discovery's crew, led by mission commander Rick Sturckow, today is scheduled to fly into KSC between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Sturkow will be joined by pilot Kevin Ford and mission specialists Patrick Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas, Christer Fuglesang and Nicole Stott.

No comments: