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Discovery on a Roll
Preparations for STS-119, the first space shuttle mission of 2009,
reached a major milestone January 14 as Discovery headed to the launch pad
at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Riding atop the crawler-transporter, Discovery began its 3.4-mile trip
from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Launch Pad 39A
in the chilly predawn darkness.
The beginning of its trip to the pad was delayed slightly
so technicians could work minor technical issues.
One issue involved the mobile launcher platform heaters
needed when temperatures are below 45 degrees.
The slow trek to the seaside launch pad was completed by midday.
Waiting at the pad was the payload, which will be transferred
into the shuttle's cargo bay from the service structure's payload changeout room.
Discovery's crew of seven, led by Commander Lee Archambault, will deliver
and install the International Space Station's final truss segment
and its set of solar arrays during the 14-day mission.
Space shuttle Discovery is targeted for a February liftoff.
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