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NASA space missions

Space Shuttle Discovery at Launch Pad


By Joshua Hill —— Bio and Archives--October 4, 2007

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Continuing in our series of articles focusing on the current and future NASA space missions, news from the American space agency is that the next shuttle to visit the International Space Station, Discovery, was delivered to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center launch pad this past Sunday.

STS-120, the latest designation, will hopefully launch on October the 23rd for a 14-day mission, where its primary objective will be to deliver the newly christened “Harmony Module”. The Italian built module will connect to the existing structure to add more room to the ISS. At least one of the objectives STS-119 were tasked with was in preparation for this extension.

“STS-120 is such a cool mission,” said Commander Pam Melroy. “Node 2 is the expansion of the space station’s capability to bring international laboratories up. It’s the expansion of our capability to carry additional people. It has additional life support equipment that will allow us to expand out beyond a three-person crew. It’s this big boost in the capability which is really exciting.”

Discovery’s first shuttle mission was back in 1984, launching on August the 30th for a six-day mission,  which would signal the 12th Shuttle Mission launched by NASA. The first flight for Discovery also marked the first and tragically only successful journey into space for Mission Specialist Judith Resnik, who was fated to be aboard Challenger two years later.

The reason that Discovery has been maneuvered out to the launching pad some three weeks in advance is so that a full launch dress rehearsal can be completed. A full dress rehearsal—which will run from the seventh to tenth of this month—is to give all the shuttle crews (both tech, original and backup crews) experience in equipment familiarization and in emergency scenarios.

Another oddity for this mission will be the crew swap between Daniel Tani, who will be trading places with current ISS resident Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson, and stay on until he is picked up by the crew of the Atlantis on mission STS-122.

The entire crew for the Discovery mission includes Commander Pam Melroy, Pilot George Zamka and mission specialists Scott Parazynski, Stephanie Wilson, Doug Wheelock, Daniel Tani and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency.

Joshua Hill, a Geek’s-Geek from Melbourne, Australia, Josh is an aspiring author with dreams of publishing his epic fantasy, currently in the works, sometime in the next 5 years. A techie, nerd, sci-fi nut and bookworm.


Guest Column Joshua Hill -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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