Monday, April 05, 2010

Shuttle Discovery chasing space station

Space shuttle Discovery powered through Florida's pre-dawn sky Monday, carrying seven astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station and leaving a brightly colored plume in its wake.

The 6:21 a.m. launch was the first of four remaining before NASA is scheduled to retire the nation's shuttle fleet.

"The vehicle is clean, the weather is good and this team is ready," Launch Director Pete Nickolenko told the crew when giving them the "go" to fly. "It's time for you to ride to orbit."

Discovery's 13-day mission will haul up more than 17,000 pounds of equipment and supplies and a large coolant tank to the orbiting outpost. These final missions will deliver the heavy spare parts and supplies that only the shuttle has the capacity to carry, part of NASA's effort to ensure the $100 billion station is well stocked before the fleet stops flying.

Commander Alan Poindexter is leading the crew, which includes Pilot James Dutton, who had hung a poster of a shuttle launching onto his bedroom wall as a child, and mission specialists Rick Mastracchio, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, a former science teacher, Stephanie Wilson, Clay Anderson and Naoko Yamazaki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

When the Discovery crew arrives at the space station early Wednesday, they'll break new ground. More women than ever will be together in orbit - the three female shuttle astronauts and U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who arrived early Sunday in the Russian Soyuz aircraft.

NASA will be relying on Russian Soyuz spacecrafts to carry U.S. astronauts into space after the shuttle retires. Someday, U.S. crews also might be flying to the space station on commercial spacecraft. President Barack Obama's 2011 budget proposal for NASA included funds to help commercial companies develop rockets and spacecraft that could bring crews into low Earth orbit.

The Discovery crew is scheduled to return to KSC at 8:29 a.m. on April 18.


Anonymous said...

From my Titusville backyard...PERFECT !!! :)

Rocket Man said...

The 6:21 a.m. launch was the first of four remaining before NASA is scheduled to retire the nation's leadership in space..To bad to give up early in the game and not to have enough funding to be a world leader. Back in the mid 60's 4-5% of the fed taxes went to the space program now it is only 0.48%. That is why you have so many problems trying to have a decent space program. You can't run a 2010 space program on a 1987 space budget. Everything cost much more then 23 years ago. You did not even kept up with the cost of living. Todays dollers is worth less then half from twenty years ago.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful launch, to the ever-growing space station, and we could go on launching the Shuttle and expanding the Space Station until we actually have a worthy replacement, a new generation fully reusable vehicle that can make human spaceflight practical.

But instead George Bush threw away the accomplishments of 30 years, both Shuttle and Station to re-enact Apollo with ancient technology far to expensive for anything but a one-off stunt.

Very few people today even understand why we went to the moon; it had nothing to do with exploration; it was a substitute for a perilous nuclear arms race. Today the ISS has taken over this role, not as a symbolic contest but as a catalyst for international trust and cooperation.

Anonymous said...

The Shuttle is finally working! What possible sense does it make to abandon it now?

Jerry w. said...

Think of the money and time it took to develope this program
now we throw it away with nothing close to the Shuttke.
The shuttle could have been upgraded with new systems like commerical aircraft and flew for another 20 years.
The boosters, tank and engine platform and could be used to deliver heavy cargo into orbit

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that the exceptional feature that sets the shuttle apart from every other space program is not even mentioned.
That this is the last launch of a REUSABLE manned space flight vehicle.
That the orbiters were designed to fly 100 times and Discovery, the fleet leader, isn't even half way there.
That the shuttle program is now 10 times safer and 40% cheaper than when Columbia launched.
That we could have launched the shuttle 30 times for what the Ares program has already cost.
Compare this to the not even on the drawing board new manned launch vehicles that are over ten years and ten launches from equaling the minimum manlift capability of the faster cheaper safer world class space shuttle program.