Shuttle Discovery Launches With Japanese Laboratory

Jun 01, 2008
Shuttle Discovery Launches With Japanese Laboratory
Space shuttle Discovery thunders off the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA TV

Space shuttle Discovery and its seven-member crew lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 5:02 p.m. EDT Saturday to deliver and install a Japanese laboratory on the International Space Station. The mission, designated STS-124, is the second of three flights to launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. Discovery is carrying Kibo's tour bus-sized Japanese Pressurized Module, or JPM, which will be the station's largest module. The shuttle astronauts will work with the three-member station crew and ground teams around the world to install the JPM and Kibo's robotic arm system.

Commander Mark Kelly promised "the greatest show on Earth," and space shuttle Discovery delivered with a thundering, fiery arc stretching over Florida's East Coast on Saturday. The launch began a 14-day mission for Kelly and his crew of seven astronauts as they install a new Japanese-built laboratory module on the International Space Station.

As the astronauts got used to their new surroundings in space, NASA officials on Earth basked in the satisfaction of a flawless countdown and liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"(It was) obviously a huge day," said NASA Administrator Mike Griffin. "A huge day for the space station partnership, for the Japanese Space Agency, for NASA and, really, for the people who hoped to see the space station do what it was designed to do, to be a place in orbit where we can learn to live and work in space."

Neither weather nor technical problems cropped up as the launch team and mission controllers went through their checks on the way to an on-time liftoff at 5:02 p.m. EDT.

"I reveled in the (launch) team's performance," said Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director. "It's really a pleasure to have my job and just sit back and watch the launch team."

Next up for the STS-124 mission is a two-day chase across space to link up with the International Space Station. It will take the crew several hours of robotic arm maneuvers and spacewalks to connect the Pressurized Module of Japan's Kibo laboratory to the station. The 36-foot-long module is the largest habitable section to be launched to the orbiting research post.

Source: NASA

Explore further: Mysteries of space dust revealed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Two Galileo satellites lose their way

Aug 23, 2014

Two European Galileo satellites launched as part of a navigation system designed to rival GPS have failed to locate their intended orbit, launch firm Arianespace said Saturday.

Checking the first data from OCO-2

Aug 22, 2014

(Phys.org) —On July 2, NASA successfully launched its first satellite dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission—operated by NASA's ...

Orbital cargo ship makes planned re-entry to Earth

Aug 18, 2014

Orbital Sciences Corporation's unmanned Cygnus cargo ship disintegrated as planned Sunday as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere after a month-long resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Recommended for you

Mysteries of space dust revealed

Aug 29, 2014

The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA's Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks open a door to studying the origins of the ...

A guide to the 2014 Neptune opposition season

Aug 29, 2014

Never seen Neptune? Now is a good time to try, as the outermost ice giant world reaches opposition this weekend at 14:00 Universal Time (UT) or 10:00 AM EDT on Friday, August 29th. This means that the distant ...

Informing NASA's Asteroid Initiative: A citizen forum

Aug 28, 2014

In its history, the Earth has been repeatedly struck by asteroids, large chunks of rock from space that can cause considerable damage in a collision. Can we—or should we—try to protect Earth from potentially ...

Image: Rosetta's comet looms

Aug 28, 2014

Wow! Rosetta is getting ever-closer to its target comet by the day. This navigation camera shot from Aug. 23 shows that the spacecraft is so close to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that it's difficult to ...

User comments : 0