STS133 A Go For Thursday

Today is President’s Day 2011.  It is also the day that the live video feed for the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery‘s long awaited last flight, mission STS133, went active.  NASA had a pre-launch press briefing this morning on NASA TV and everything looks ready.

STS133 was scrubbed late last year when they found cracks in the main fuel tank.

On board is a new cargo module or PMM, called “Leonardo”.  This PMM has been used for 10 years to ferry cargo to and from the International Space Station, and now they’ll leave it up there as a part of the ISS.  It will attach to the Unity node on the station for new pressurized space on the station for storage and scientific use. 

Also on this shuttle will fly one of the External Logistics Carriers, sort of an exterior mounting rack for experiments and other equipment mounted outside the station.  The document that I read about this ELC says that it be located on the side of the ISS that faces Earth and that it mounts a Heat Rejection System for the station; it doesn’t say if it will mount anything else.

The other big-name item on board Discovery for this flight is Robonaut 2, an experimental humaniod robot, developed for NASA by General Motors.  They will use it to explore how best to use robots in space, with one of the goals being to function as a helper during work outside the station.  It’ll ride inside Leonardo and astronauts will set it up in the Destiny laboratory for innitial testing.

We’ve all waited awhile to see this flight go off.  Discovery has served us well since its first launch on August 30th, 1984, flying more times than any other Space Shuttle.  It carried the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit, which has served a rich and successful scientific role during its operational life, and provided many of the cool images that I use on this blog.  Discovery also flew two of Hubble’s servicing missions.

 I’ll write about the launch here when it happens.

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~ by Bill Housley on February 21, 2011.

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