Space Shuttle Discovery Ready to Launch on Saturday

NASA

Image above: The STS-124 crew members pose for a portrait at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. From the left are astronauts Mark Kelly, commander; Ken Ham, pilot; Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and astronaut Greg Chamitoff.                   

Photo credit: NASA


      Kennedy Space Center  technicians are preparing space shuttle Discovery for its STS launch on Saturday,  at 5:02 p.m. EDT from Florida’s Space Coast.  Led by Commander Mark Kelly, the seven-member flight crew are arriving today at aboard T-38 jets. At 3 p.m., the countdown clock will blink to life and begin counting down from the T-43 hour mark.  Althought there is a possibility for isolated coastal showers on the morning of the launch,  the weather forecast is still good with an 80% chance of favorable weather at liftoff time.

       Discovery’s 14-day flight will carry the largest payload so far to the station and includes three spacewalks. It is the second of three missions that will launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory. The crew will install Kibo’s large Japanese Pressurized Module and Kibo’s robotic arm system. Discovery also will deliver new station crew member Greg Chamitoff and bring back Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who will end a three-month stay aboard the outpost.

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