NASA Podcasts

STS-133: Training for Launch
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NASA Commentator George Diller: As launch day approaches for space shuttle Discovery's final flight to the International Space Station, the STS-133 crew members prepare for liftoff by participating in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The six crew members flew in T-38 jets to Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility Tuesday, Oct. 12.

They were greeted by Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach, astronaut Jerry Ross and media gathered for the crew's arrival. Veteran astronaut Steve Lindsey commands Discovery's flight, assisted by Pilot Eric Boe, Mission Specialists Nicole Stott, Tim Kopra, Alvin Drew and Michael Barratt.

During the three days of training, Lindsey and Boe made several take-offs and landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft, a modified Gulfstream jet designed to simulate the shuttle gliding unpowered onto the 3-mile-long runway.

As part of safety training on Launch Pad 39A, the astronauts were briefed on the pad's slidewire baskets and on the ground at the safety bunker, part of the emergency exit system located 1,200 feet west of the pad.

STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey: It's great to be here for TCDT and go through that again. The vehicle is looking great. All of our activities are going great. We are basically trained and ready to fly -- just a few more weeks of activities we need to go through and then we'll be hopefully back here for an on-time launch on November. 1

NASA Commentator George Diller: The astronauts also were instructed on how to drive the M-113 armored personnel carriers out in the field.

M-113 training was developed to transport the flight and pad crew to safety in the unlikely event of a contingency on the pad before launch.

On the final day at Kennedy, the astronauts suited up in their custom-fitted orange launch and entry suits and helmets in preparation for a full launch dress rehearsal.

After traveling in NASA's silver Astrovan, they arrived at the pad's White Room on the 195-foot level and climbed aboard Discovery, aided by the Closeout Crew.

As realistic as launch day itself, the flight crew took part in a simulated launch countdown that included operations and communication checks of a real liftoff -- right down to a mock engine start.

The final exercise included emergency pad evacuation procedures and jumping into the slidewire baskets.

After wrapping up TCDT training, the astronauts climbed back into their T-38's and returned home to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Discovery's STS-133 mission is targeted for a Nov. 1 liftoff to the International Space Station.

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