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(Editor’s Note: Ken Kremer is at the Kennedy Space Center for Universe Today covering the flight of Discovery)
At the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, the countdown clock is ticking towards blast off for the STS 131 assembly mission of Space Shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station. Discovery is slated to lift off on Monday, April 5 at 6:21 AM.
Mike Moses, chairman of NASA’s Mission Management Team at KSC announced a “Unanimous Go for Launch” at the KSC pre-launch news briefing today, April 3. “This is one of the most heavily packed shuttle missions with science equipment and will position the ISS very well for science in the future”
The weather forecast is 80 % Favorable.
The international crew of seven astronauts arrived at the Shuttle landing strip at KSC on a Gulfstream II jet at 7 AM on Thursday morning (April 1). They were greeted by KSC Director Bob Cabana and the media including myself.
“The crew’s ready to go and we’re looking forward to our mission to the International Space Station. It’s a complex 13-day mission. It’s main mission is resupply. We also have three very challenging EVAs,” said Shuttle Commander Alan Poindexter.
Pre-launch operations have been on-going for several months. I had the opportunity to participate in media tours to inspect her primary cargo, the Leonardo resupply module, inside the Space Station Processing Facility at KSC and take a quite rare and absolutely thrilling visit to witness Discovery close up from directly on top of Launch Pad 39A as her giant payload canister was delivered to the massive pad structure on March 19, 2010.
Nestled inside Discovery’s cargo bay is the ‘Leonardo’ Multi-purpose logistics module (MPLM) and a 3800 lb Ammonia cooling tank. Leonardo weighs over 27,000 pounds and is jam packed with16 science and stowage racks including the 3rd MELFI low temperature science freezer, the 4th crew personal quarters and the WORF space science imagery experiment which features Klingon inscriptions for future visitors.
STS-131 will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the station and the 131st shuttle mission overall. This will be the penultimate voyage for Discovery.