NASA's Shuttle Discovery Heads to Station After Predawn Launch
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Space shuttle Discovery lit up Florida's Space Coast sky about 45 minutes before sunrise Monday with a 6:21 a.m. EDT launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The launch began a 13-day flight to the International Space Station and the second of five shuttle missions planned for 2010.
Discovery is scheduled to dock to the space station at 3:44 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7. The shuttle will deliver science experiments, equipment and supplies to the station. The flight will include three spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the station's truss, or backbone, install a spare ammonia storage tank, and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior.
Inside the shuttle's cargo bay is the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, a pressurized "moving van" that will be attached to the station temporarily on April 7 and returned to the shuttle's cargo bay Thursday, April 15. The module is filled with supplies, new crew sleeping quarters and science racks that will be transferred to the station's laboratories. This is the final compliment of laboratory facilities that will complete the station's overall research capabilities.
"The crew of STS-131 is really honored to represent the thousands of dedicated people that make up the entire NASA, JAXA and contractor workforces," Commander Alan Poindexter said shortly before liftoff.
Poindexter's fellow crew members are Pilot Jim Dutton and Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, Clay Anderson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. Dutton, Lindenburger and Yamazaki are making their first spaceflights. These three astronauts are the last rookies that will fly aboard the shuttle before its planned retirement.
Lindenburger will be the last of three teachers selected as mission specialists in the 2004 Educator-Astronaut class to fly on the shuttle. The educational activities on the STS-131 mission will focus on robotics and promoting careers in science, technology, engineering and math. For NASA's teacher and student resources and activities related to robotics, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education/robotics
Discovery's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 18. The STS-131 mission will be Discovery's 38th flight and the 33rd shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.
NASA's Web coverage of STS-131 includes mission information, a press kit, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos. Mission coverage, including the latest NASA TV schedule, is available on the main space shuttle Web site at: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the mission. NASA Television features live mission events, daily status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
Daily news conferences with STS-131 mission managers will take place at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Johnson will operate a telephone bridge for media briefings that occur outside of normal business hours. To use this service, reporters must possess valid media credentials issued by a NASA center or issued specifically for the STS-131 mission.
Journalists planning to use the service must contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of a briefing. Newsroom personnel will verify credentials and transfer reporters to the phone bridge. Phone bridge capacity is limited, so it will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Anderson and Yamazaki are sending updates about their training to their Twitter accounts and plan to tweet from orbit during the mission. They can be followed at: http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Clay and http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Naoko
Live updates to the NASA News Twitter feed will be added throughout the shuttle mission and landing. To access the feed, go to the NASA.gov
homepage or visit: http://www.twitter.com/nasa
For more information about the space station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
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