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STS-114 Crew Put to the Test


The STS-114 crew departs for Launch Pad 39BIn preparation for the Return to Flight mission, STS-114, the Space Shuttle Discovery crew spent three days at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida the first week of May participating in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test. This milestone, highlighted by a countdown dress rehearsal on Wednesday morning, marked the first time astronauts boarded a Shuttle on the launch pad in more than two years.

Image to left: STS-114 Commander Eileen Collins leads the way to the Astrovan that will transport the crew to Launch Pad 39B for a mock launch countdown. Credit: NASA/KSC

"We had a very successful test," said Commander Eileen Collins at the conclusion of the activities. "It felt to me like it was a real launch day, the way people were talking and handling issues as they came up."

The Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test is held prior to every Space Shuttle mission and allows the astronauts and ground support teams to practice prelaunch activities and become familiar with countdown procedures.

Pilot James Kelly suits upOn Monday, Collins, Pilot Jim Kelly, and Mission Specialists Andy Thomas, Stephen Robinson, Wendy Lawrence, Charles Camarda and Soichi Noguchi turned their attention to safety training. They practiced driving the M-113 tanks that could carry them away from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency. They also were briefed on range safety, and received fire suppression training. The astronauts were fitted for the bright-orange suits they'll wear during the Shuttle's historic liftoff and landing.

Image to right: STS-114 Pilot James Kelly suits up in his orange launch and landing suit. Credit: NASA/KSC

Crew members spent Tuesday better familiarizing themselves with launch pad escape routes during an emergency egress walkdown at Launch Pad 39B. On Monday and Tuesday evening, Collins and Kelly took to the skies in the Shuttle Training Aircraft to practice landing on the Space Shuttle runway.

Mission Specialist Stephen Robinson drives an M-113 tankImage to left: STS-114 Mission Specialist Stephen Robinson (right) practices driving an M-113 armored personnel carrier. Credit: NASA/KSC

Wednesday morning, the flight crew rose early for breakfast and a weather briefing, followed by the standard pre-launch routine. After suiting up, they boarded the silver Astrovan for the 20-minute ride to the launch pad. Once onboard Space Shuttle Discovery, the astronauts spent the remainder of the countdown performing tasks from their seats inside the crew module.

Meanwhile, the Kennedy Space Center launch team did the same from the Launch Control Center about three miles away.

Mission Specialists Camarda, Lawrence and Thomas inside the mid-deck of DiscoveryImage to right: In the mid-deck of Space Shuttle Discovery, Mission Specialists Charles Camarda (left), Wendy Lawrence and Andrew Thomas take part in a mock countdown. Credit: NASA/KSC

"I think it's a testament to all the training and the simulations that have been done over the past 18 months or so," Collins said of the test's success. "I know the team down [at Kennedy] has been doing training and, in fact, our crew has participated in some of the training sessions that they've done, and it really shows."

Anna Heiney
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center

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