Beautiful Night Launch
Mission STS-128 finally got off the ground with the great nighttime launch of shuttle Discovery Friday night. I was unable to watch NASA TV as I usually do for a launch, as I was busy directing a flight of students in the Magellan Simulator at the Space Center. However, the NASA TV replays got me caught up on events and the flight has proceeded as normal so far.
Yesterday the astronauts performed the first of many inspections of the spacecraft looking for possible problems from the launch related to the eventual atmospheric re-entry at the end of the mission. Today, just before the Discovery docks with ISS, they will perform the RPM (roll Pitch Maneuver) to use the cameras on board ISS to inspect the bottom heat shield tiles. The RPM is absolutely my favorite maneuver of the entire shuttle mission as the shuttle performs a delicate and graceful ballet before closing to the station docking hatch.
With there being so few remaining shuttle missions, I urge you to not miss these great moments of spacecraft flight.
The crew is about to be awakened. They will have some personal time before preparing for the ISS docking procedures.