Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pyrotechnic Devices Installed On Discovery At Launch Pad

Small explosives are being rigged up on shuttle Discovery today as NASA continues to gear up for the planned launch next Monday on the orbiter's last flight before fleet retirement.

Discovery and six astronauts remain scheduled to blast off at 4:40 p.m. that day, although an evasive maneuver at the International Space Station today might prompt a slight change in the precise launch time. NASA in any case will have a 10-minute window to put Discovery and its crew on course for the international outpost.

The astronauts went into quarantine at Johnson Space Center in Houston Monday as NASA contractor technicians at Kennedy Space Center prepared to install small explosive devices on the Discovery stack at launch pad 39A.

The pyrotechnics are used to separate the orbiter from its launcher platform, solid rocket boosters and external tank during flight. They also include explosives that would be used to deliberately destroy the shuttle's solid rocket boosters if they careened out of control and threatened populated areas.

Launch countdown preparations also are in work today. Call To Stations in Firing Room 4 of the Launch Control Center is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Friday. The launch countdown is set to pick up a half-hour later.

ABOUT THE IMAGES: Click to enlarge the latest still image from live video feeds in the Launch Complex 39 area at Kennedy Space Center.

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