February 27, 2001
Johnson Space Center
The launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery has been set for 6:42 a.m. EST March 8 on a mission to the International Space Station that will make NASA's first crew shift change in orbit and carry an Italian-built Station logistics carrier filled with laboratory experiments and equipment.
"This will be the fifth Space Shuttle launch in the past seven months, and each of those missions has been safe, fully successful and, relative to their challenge and complexity, almost deceptively smooth," said Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore. "That record is a testament to the excellent work that has been done by all members of the Space Shuttle and Space Station teams coast to coast. Discovery is ready and so are we."
Discovery's flight, designated Space Shuttle mission STS-102, will be commanded by Jim Wetherbee. The pilot will be Jim Kelly and Andy Thomas and Paul Richards will serve as mission specialists. Discovery also will carry the second expedition crew -- Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms -- to the International Space Station.
At the end of its almost 12-day flight, Discovery will bring home the first Station crew, Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, completing more than four months spent in orbit aboard the complex. Discovery also will take aloft the first Station logistics carrier, an Italian-built logistics module named Leonardo that will be filled with the first major laboratory experiments as well as key equipment.
Discovery is planned to land March 20 at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
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