Friday, February 4, 2011

Shuttle Happenings

Discovery rolls out to the launch pad.

Overnight on January 31st and February 1st, the shuttle Discovery was finally rolled out on the enormous crawlers to set up on Pad 39A. NASA has planned for a launch on February 24th at about 2:50 pm Mountain time. Discovery's STS133 was delayed for a couple of month in order to repair stress cracks discovered in the External Tank which is filled with liquid Hydrogen during liftoff. STS133 is planned to bring supplies to the ISS and help perform repair and maintenance tasks. There are two more shuttle missions planned after this one.

Astronaut Tim Kopra, a mission specialist on STS133, suffered an injury while bicycling. He will be replaced on this mission by astronaut Steve Bowen. This is an unusual situation because Bowen had just recently flown on the last shuttle mission, and according to NASA this makes him the first astronaut to fly on consecutive space missions. Who'd have thought?

STS134 is scheduled to fly in April. The commander of that mission, Mark Kelly, is husband of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who was tragically shot in Arizona recently. Her head wound has made remarkable healing progress, and it appears Commander Kelly will continue to command the shuttle mission.

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