NASA clears Discovery for Monday morning launch

Apr 03, 2010 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
A female Osprey and one of her three chicks are seen against the backdrop of the NASA logo on the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center, Saturday, April 3, 2010, in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch Monday, April 5 on a mission to the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

(AP) -- NASA has cleared Discovery for a Monday morning launch to the International Space Station, the last scheduled liftoff in darkness for the soon-to-retire shuttle program.

Mission managers met Saturday and gave the "go" to proceed toward . The unanimous decision came after engineers determined there were no safety concerns. Two booster problems recently cropped up when the parts were tested offsite.

Forecasters expect an 80 percent chance of good weather for the 6:21 a.m. liftoff, close to an hour before sunrise.

Even though Sunday is Easter, countdown preparations will continue as usual, with the same number of workers. Launch director Pete Nickolenko said he asked his team if anyone had any conflicts because of the holiday, and no one did.

Discovery is loaded with spare parts and science experiments for the space station. A crew of seven will deliver all the gear and conduct three spacewalks to set everything up.

On Saturday, the astronauts got their customary preflight haircuts.

"Pre-launch haircut complete ... High and tight!" balding crew member Clayton Anderson wrote in a Twitter update. He said some of his Marine astronaut buddies "would be proud!"

Only three shuttle flights remain after this one. President Barack Obama will visit the Cape Canaveral area April 15 - while Discovery is in orbit - to elaborate on his post-shuttle plans. He created a furor in the aerospace community in February when he killed NASA's Constellation program, which had been aimed at returning astronauts to the moon. That will mean even more lost jobs for Kennedy Space Center and NASA's other hubs for human spaceflight operation.

Launch manager Mike Moses told reporters that even as the shuttle program winds down, the work force remains as loyal and dedicated to the job as ever.

"But I don't want to take away from the fact that this is a very human space program, not just with the humans flying in the shuttle, but the folks building it and preparing it and getting ready to launch it," he said.

As excitement builds toward Monday morning's launch, "I don't think there are too many people out there right now at their desks, worried that we're about to end," Moses said. "You ask that question on Tuesday, we might get a little different answer. But right now, I think spirits are very high and geared up toward that ."

Discovery will spend 13 days in orbit, on its next-to-last flight.

Explore further: Liquid crystal bubble OASIS in space

0 shares

Related Stories

Shuttle 'Go' for Dec. 6 Launch

Dec 04, 2007

Space shuttle Atlantis is set to begin its launch countdown for the STS-122 mission with a flurry of activities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis is scheduled to launch at 4:31 p.m. EST on ...

Recommended for you

Strong evidence for coronal heating theory presented

1 hour ago

The Sun's surface is blisteringly hot at 6,000 kelvins or 10,340 degrees Fahrenheit—but its atmosphere is another 300 times hotter. This has led to an enduring mystery for those who study the Sun: What ...

The view from up there, down here

4 hours ago

When many people saw the first stunning photos of the fragile blue marble of Earth from space, it changed their outlook of humanity. It was a singular moment in time when people around the world were watching ...

The weird ways fire behaves in space (w/ Video)

6 hours ago

Light a match on earth and you can expect the flame to shoot up in a tapering bulb. But light that match in space and you might not even recognize the small, blue orb at the tip. That's because fire behaves ...

Russia loses comms with ISS cargo spacecraft (Update)

9 hours ago

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station were left with a long wait Tuesday to get their latest food and fuel deliveries after an unmanned Russian supply ship lost communications following takeoff.

Liquid crystal bubble OASIS in space

21 hours ago

No matter how beautiful or crystal clear the bubbling waters of an oasis may be, they seldom lead to technology breakthroughs. Yet, NASA's OASIS investigation's bubbles may lead to an ocean of new improvements ...

User comments : 0

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.