Saturday, April 03, 2010

Forecast remains excellent for Monday morning launch

Mission managers will gather at 10 this morning at Kennedy Space Center to review the progress of Discovery's countdown toward a 6:21 a.m. Monday launch to the International Space Station.

A pre-launch news conference is planned no earlier than noon to discuss the 13-day resupply mission and affirm a "go" to continue with launch preparations.

Participants will include Mike Moses, chairman of the Mission Management Team, Pete Nickolenko, the launch director for the 131st shuttle mission, and Kathy Winters, the shuttle weather officer.

Watch the briefing live here by clicking the NASA TV box at right to launch a video player.

Today's weather forecast from the Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron remains excellent, with an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions Monday morning.

KSC workers this morning are finishing up the servicing of Discovery's three power-producing fuel cells, offloading about 645 pounds of excess liquid oxygen.

Earlier, mission commander Alan Poindexter, a 48-year-old Navy captain making his second shuttle flight, and pilot Jim Dutton, a 41-year-old Air Force colonel making his first spaceflight, practiced landings in a modified Gulfstream II called the Shuttle Training Aircraft (above).

The seven-person crew also includes mission specialists Clay Anderson, Rick Mastracchio, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamazaki.

The crew will go to sleep at noon and awake at 8 p.m., a sleep shifting schedule preparing them for overnight mission hours.

The countdown entered its second of seven planned holds at 7 a.m., and should pick up at 4 p.m. at the T minus 19-hour mark.

IMAGE: At the Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, STS-131 Commander Alan Poindexter, left, and Pilot James Dutton Jr. take time out to pose for the camera before a practice session in Shuttle Training Aircraft on Friday. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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