NASA hopes for nighttime Discovery launch

Nov 16, 2006

NASA officials in Washington said they hope to launch the shuttle Discovery after dark, the first nighttime launch since the Columbia explosion.

If shuttle managers give the go-ahead, Discovery will launch after dark Dec. 7 on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station.

Launching at night limits the view of airborne debris, which can hit the ship as it lifts off. While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has more than 100 cameras near the launch pad in Florida and on the spacecraft to monitor liftoff, they won't work as well in the dark, USA Today said.

Since the fatal Columbia accident in 2003, shuttle astronauts have been required to inspect the ship with sensors once they reach orbit. The sensors can detect cracks as tiny as 0.02 inches long, so the crews should be able to see damage and take the appropriate action. The sensors can't detect near-misses, though.

Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale said he and other NASA managers want to resume night launches to ease scheduling for the shuttle, which will be retired in 2010, meaning space station construction must be done by then as well, USA Today said.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: Elon Musk gets fresh challenge with space contract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

End dawns for Europe's space cargo delivery role

Jul 27, 2014

Europe will close an important chapter in its space flight history Tuesday, launching the fifth and final robot ship it had pledged for lifeline deliveries to the International Space Station.

Astronauts to test free-flying "housekeeper" robots

Jul 21, 2014

(Phys.org) —Inspired by science fiction, three bowling ball-size free-flying Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) have been flying inside the International Space ...

Recommended for you

Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

6 hours ago

A NASA mission to Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder is set to slide into orbit around the red planet this week after a 10-month, 442-million mile chase through the inner solar system. 

Dawn operating normally after safe mode triggered

6 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned ...

Repaired Opportunity rover readies for 'Marathon Valley'

6 hours ago

With a newly cleared memory, it's time for Opportunity to resume the next stage of its long, long Martian drive. The next major goal for the long-lived rover is to go to Marathon Valley, a spot that (in images ...

Image: Rainbow aurora captured from space station

9 hours ago

Auroras occur when particle radiation from the Sun hits Earth's upper atmosphere, making it glow in a greenish blue light. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has one of our planet's best views of this phenomenon, ...

Experts: Mystery fireball was Russian satellite

13 hours ago

People from New Mexico to Montana saw the bright object break apart as it moved slowly northward across the night sky. Witnesses described it as three "rocks" with glowing red and orange streaks.

User comments : 0