January 14, 2009

Discovery Gets Ready For Mission

After reaching its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery now awaits its next major milestone for the upcoming STS-119 mission. A launch dress rehearsal, known as the terminal countdown demonstration test, is scheduled to take place at Kennedy from Jan. 19 to 21.

Discovery arrived at Launch Pad 39A at 10:08 a.m. EST Wednesday on top of a giant crawler-transporter. The crawler-transporter left Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building at 5:17 a.m. Wednesday, traveling less than 1 mph during the 3.4-mile journey. The shuttle was secured on the pad at 12:16 p.m.

The STS-119 astronauts and ground crews will participate in the practice countdown. The test provides each shuttle crew with an opportunity to participate in various simulated countdown activities, including equipment familiarization and emergency training.

The following media events are associated with the test. All times are Eastern.

-- Jan. 19 - STS-119 crew arrival and media availability: The astronauts will arrive at 11:30 a.m. at the Shuttle Landing Facility and will take questions immediately following arrival. The arrival and media availability will be broadcast live on NASA Television.

-- Jan. 21 - STS-119 crew walkout photo opportunity: The astronauts will depart from the Operations and Checkout Building at 7:45 a.m. in their flight entry suits in preparation for the countdown demonstration test at the launch pad. The walkout will not be broadcast live but will be part of the NASA TV Video File.

Video B-roll of the terminal countdown demonstration test will be available on the NASA TV Video File.

Discovery is targeted to launch Feb. 12 on a 14-day mission to the International Space Station. The crew of seven astronauts will install the S6 truss segment to the starboard, or right, side of the station and deploy its solar arrays. Four spacewalks will be conducted during the flight.

Lee Archambault will command the STS-119 mission. Tony Antonelli will be the pilot. The mission specialists are Joseph Acaba, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, John Phillips and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata will remain on the station as a resident crew member, replacing station Flight Engineer Sandra Magnus. She will return home on Discovery.

STS-119 is the 125th shuttle flight, the 36th flight for Discovery and the 28th flight to the station.


Image Caption: Space shuttle Discovery is silhouetted against the dawn's early light as it makes the slow 3.4-mile journey to Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle sits atop the mobile launcher platform, which is being moved by the massive crawler-transporter beneath. Discovery is targeted to launch on the STS-119 mission to the International Space Station Feb. 12. During Discovery's 14-day mission, the crew will install the final set of solar arrays to the starboard side of the station, completing the outpost's backbone, or truss, enabling a six-person crew to live there starting in May. Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder


On the Net: