STS-124 -- Mission to the International Space Station
The crew of space shuttle mission STS-124 completed its mission! The astronauts launched on the space shuttle Discovery on May 31, 2008.
Seven astronauts were on space shuttle Discovery for the STS-124 mission. Mark Kelly was the commander. Ken Ham was the pilot. Karen Nyberg, Mike Fossum, Greg Chamitoff, Ron Garan and Akihiko Hoshide were mission specialists. The mission was the third spaceflight for Kelly, the second for Fossum and the first spaceflight for the rest of the crew. Chamitoff flew to the station and took Garrett Reisman's place as the International Space Station flight engineer. Garan and Fossum went on three spacewalks during the mission.
The shuttle took a Japanese laboratory to the space station. The name of the lab is Kibo, which means "Hope" in Japanese. Kibo is about the size of a bus. The lab is so big that it almost didn't fit into the shuttle's payload bay. A smaller part of Kibo was sent up on an earlier shuttle mission.
The crew spent a lot of time training before going into space. The astronauts learned how to get out of the shuttle in an emergency. All of the crew worked in the water of the large tank at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Crew members also tasted food and made menus for their flight.
Before going into space, the STS-124 crew designed a patch to describe the mission. The STS-124 patch shows the space shuttle Discovery docked with the space station. The patch also shows the Japanese flag on Kibo. The lab is shown attached to the station. Its name is written in Japanese at the bottom of the patch. The sun is shown shining down on Earth. This symbol shows that the experiments done on Kibo will help the whole world.
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