Preparing for Launch
Ten... Nine... Eight... Seven... Six... Five... Four... Three... Two... One...
That countdown is a very familiar part of any Space Shuttle launch. But for NASA, the countdown for its next mission started long before they got to "ten." NASA has been working hard to get ready for this launch for well over two years! A lot of things had to be done before the STS-114 Return to Flight mission.
The crew has been in training for a long time. They will have jobs to do to make the International Space Station better. Also, there are extra jobs that are special to this flight. The crew will be making sure that the Space Shuttle is the safest it has ever been. In order to do these jobs, the crew trains on the ground. They have been practicing the work they will do in space for many months.
NASA also had to get the Space Shuttle ready for its mission. Discovery is the Shuttle that will fly this time. NASA has made several changes to the Shuttle for this flight. The changes will make the astronauts safer.
Now, the work to get ready is almost finished. And the time to launch is almost here!