Sunday, August 30, 2009

Live In Orbit: Discovery In Hot Pursuit Of Station

LIVE IMAGES: The image above is the latest live image from NASA Television. It will automatically refresh itself to the most up to date image every 30 seconds.

Discovery's astronauts are gearing up for a high-flying arrival at the International Space Station this evening, one that will deliver a former Kennedy Space Center worker for a three-month tour of duty of the outpost.

With the shuttle and the station flying in an orbit about 220 miles Earth, Discovery commander Rick "C.J." Sturckow will guide the winged spaceship to a docking port on the U.S. side of the international outpost about 9:04 p.m.

The shuttle and station crews will join together in the outpost right about 11 p.m. for a hatch-opening and welcome ceremony. Then one of the first orders of business will be a crew swap.

Discovery mission specialist Nicole Stott, a former Endeavour Flow Manager who worked at KSC for 10 years starting in 1988, will replace station flight engineer Tim Kopra, who then will become a member of the shuttle crew.

Stott's family beamed up special wake-up music on her big day: "Made To Love," by Toby Mac.

"Good morning, Discovery, and a special good morning to you, Nicole," veteran astronaut Shannon Lucid radioed up from NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston.

"Good morning, Shannon, and good morning, Houston. Thank you so much for playing that song. And a specialist thanks to our son, Roman, for selecting that," Stott said. "A gi-normous thanks to him. and big space hugs. That's one of our very special ones, and I just want to let him know. I love him more than anything."

The astronauts will spend the next could of hours getting readying for the rendezvous with, and docking at, the station.

The final portion of the rendezvous will begin about 6:25 p.m. tonight with the Terminal Initiation, or TI, burn. The orbital maneuvering engine firing will take place as the shuttle closes within about nine statute miles of the station.

A series of mid-course corrections may or may not be required, and then the shuttle will do a Rotational Pitch Maneuver -- a nose-over-tail backflip when the ship draws within about 600 feet of the station at 8 p.m.

Camera-wielding astronauts on the station will use 400 millimeter and 800 millimeter lenses to take high-resolution photos of the underside of the shuttle orbiter during as part of a now-standard damage assessment instituted after the 2003 Columbia accident.

No comments: