Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Watch It Live: Shuttle Set To Roll Up Onto Pad 39A

BLOGGER UPDATE, 6:57 AM: Shuttle Discovery is on the roll again. Despite soggy conditions on the crawlerway that links NASA's twin shuttle launch pads and the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building, a crawler-transporter is once again hauling the vehicle toward pad 39A, where it is scheduled to blast off around Aug. 25 on an International Space Station outfitting mission.

BLOGGER UPDATE, 6:38 AM: Shuttle Discovery still is stalled on the river-rock crawlerway that connects launch pads 39A and 39B with the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building. Soaked during thunderstorms and rain on Monday, the crawlerway is very wet this morning, and NASA officials say technicians are having to clean mud from crawler cleats and bearings. The start of rollout was delayed a little more than two hours due to a Phase II Lightning Warning. The warning is issued when lightning strikes within five nautical miles of operational areas at KSC.

BLOGGER UPDATE, 6:00 AM: Shuttle Discovery got a late start to the launch pad and could be even later getting to the pad. The fully assembled spaceship left the Vehicle Assembly Building at 2:07 a.m. -- about two hours later than intended. A planned six-hour trip now is stalled, the apparent result of a problem with the crawler-transporter that is hauling the shuttle to its seaside launch site. The transporter pulled up lame less than a mile into the 3.5-mile trip.

Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to roll up onto its oceanside launch pad early today after an overnight crawl from the 525-foot-tall assembly building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

Mounted atop a mobile launcher platform the size of the infield of a baseball diamond, the shuttle is to be hauled up onto the pedestal at launch pad 39A right around 6 a.m. The fully assembled spaceship should be hard down on the pad about an hour later.

You can watch live coverage of the final stages of the 3.5-mile move right here in The Flame Trench beginning at 6 a.m. Simply click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and be sure to refresh this page for periodic updates.

Discovery and seven astronauts are scheduled to launch around Aug. 25 on a mission to outfit the International Space Station. The rollout to the pad will be followed later this week by a two-day practice countdown that will involve the crew for the mission, designated STS-128.

Onboard will be one of KSC's own: Nicole Stott.

A Florida native, Stott began her career in 1987 as a structural design engineer with engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney. A year later, she joined NASA at KSC as an operations engineer in the Orbiter Processing Facility. After just six months on the job, she was detailed to a special team tasked with assessing the overall efficiency of shuttle processing flows and implementing tools for measuring the effectiveness of improvements.

She helped lead a project aimed at developing intelligent scheduling tools and played a key role in the development of the Ground Processing Scheduling System.

Stott also held a variety of positions within NASA shuttle processing, including Vehicle Operations Engineer; NASA Convoy Commander; Shuttle Flow Director for Endeavour; and Orbiter Project Engineer for Columbia.

During her last two years at KSC, she was a member of the Space Station Hardware Integration Office and relocated to Huntington Beach, California, where she served as the NASA Project Lead for the ISS truss elements under construction at the Boeing Space Station facility.

She joined NASA's Johnson Space Center in 1998 and was selected to the astronaut corps in July 2000.

Stott will fly up to the station aboard Discovery and serve there as a flight engineer. She'll replace Tim Kopra, who will return to Earth aboard Discovery.

Stott and the rest of the crew will arrive at KSC around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday to take part in emergency training and a two-day practice countdown. They'll field questions from reporters at launch pad 39A at 8:40 a.m. Thursday. You can watch both events live here in The Flame Trench by clicking the NASA TV box on the right and launching our NASA TV viewer.

The crew also includes mission commander Rick Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford and mission specialists Jose Hernandez, John Olivas Patrick Forrester and Christer Fuglesang of the European Space Agency.

The astronauts will climb aboard Discovery on Friday for the last three hours of the practice countdown.

No comments: