NASA begins countdown for Monday's shuttle launch

April 2, 2010 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
The crew of space shuttle Discovery, from left, mission specialist Clayton Anderson, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki, mission specialists Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Rick Mastracchio, pilot James Dutton and commander Alan Poindexter arrive at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Thursday, April 1, 2010. Discovery is scheduled to launch April 5 on a mission to the International Space Station.(AP Photo/John Raoux)

(AP) -- NASA's countdown clocks began ticking Friday for next week's launch of shuttle Discovery on a space station supply run, one of only four remaining.

Discovery is scheduled to blast off just before dawn Monday with seven astronauts and a load of science experiments and spare parts for the . Forecasters put the odds of good weather at 80 percent.

This is scheduled to be the last space shuttle launch in darkness. Only three shuttle missions remain after this one.

NASA already is relying on the Russians for rides to the space station. In fact, U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson hitched a ride aboard a early Friday. The space agency hopes U.S. commercial rockets will take over this taxi job, but that's still several years away. As for cargo, Russian, Japanese and European spacecraft will fill the void, though none is as big as the shuttle.

"Every one of the remaining missions is an important mission for us. Because we only have a few left, we have to get everything that we're going to get uphill on these next few missions," said NASA test director Steve Payne.

"The team out here really loves launching space shuttles. So we're enjoying everything we can, while we've got it," he added.

Launch time will be 6:21 a.m., nearly an hour before sunrise.

If the visibility is good, sunlight should reflect off the shuttle as it rises and, a little later, create a rainbow of colors in the exhaust plume.

This wasn't supposed to be a night flight. But the mission was delayed two weeks after this winter's unusually cold weather stalled preparations.

Three spacewalks are planned during Discovery's 13-day flight.

Explore further: Weather a threat to shuttle launch

0 shares

Related Stories

Weather a threat to shuttle launch

June 30, 2006

The countdown for Saturday's launch of space shuttle Discovery is on schedule but the U.S. space agency is weary about the weather over Florida.

NASA green lights April 5 launch of Discovery

March 27, 2010

The US space agency NASA gave its thumbs up for the April 5 launch of the shuttle Discovery, which will take a seven-member crew, including a Japanese astronaut, to the International Space Station (ISS).

Recommended for you

WISE, Fermi missions reveal a surprising blazar connection

August 24, 2016

Astronomers studying distant galaxies powered by monster black holes have uncovered an unexpected link between two very different wavelengths of the light they emit, the mid-infrared and gamma rays. The discovery, which was ...

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

August 24, 2016

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Paul Butler has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool ...

Test for damp ground at Mars streaks finds none

August 24, 2016

Seasonal dark streaks on Mars that have become one of the hottest topics in interplanetary research don't hold much water, according to the latest findings from a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.