Discovery’s final crew arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

by Jason Rhian on February 20, 2011

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STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey and Mission Specialist Alvin Drew land at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL – Arriving in their trademark T-38 Talon jets, the crew that will fly the last mission of the space shuttle Discovery arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts landed at the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) at 3:45 p.m. EDT and took a few moments to speak to members of the media and pose for pictures before heading off to prepare for their 11-day mission.

Discovery is currently slated to begin its mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with liftoff taking place at 4:50 p.m. EDT Thursday, Feb. 24. The STS-133 mission is Discovery’s final scheduled flight. However, STS-132, which took place this past May, was shuttle Atlantis’ final scheduled flight – now that orbiter is scheduled to close out the shuttle program when it completes mission STS-135, which is scheduled to take place late this summer.

The crew will deliver the Leonardo Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) to the space station. The PMM was modified from the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) Leonardo – which was essentially a cargo container. Now, Leonardo will be a permanent fixture on the orbiting outpost providing additional storage for the station’s crew.

STS-133 mission Commander Steve Lindsey discusses the upcoming mission at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Launch Facility. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

On the way to orbit, the PMM will carry, among other things, the first human-like robot ever flown in space, Robonaut 2 (R2). R2 will stay onboard the station and will be used to test the viability of similar robots in assisting astronauts on future long-duration missions. One of the things that the station can always use – is more spare parts. STS-133 will deliver various parts and the Express Logistics Carrier 4, a platform that holds large equipment.

The crew consists of Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Michael Barratt and Nicole Stott. Bowen is a last minute addition to the crew. He replaces Tim Kopra who broke his hip in a bicycle accident.

Mission Specialist Alvin Drew (left) is greeted by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden (right). Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Sili February 21, 2011 at 2:46 PM

Why the jets? What’s wrong with taking the bus?

wjwbudro February 22, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Because they’re pilots and they have to log a certain number of hours in the cockpit in order to to maintain their flight status.

Sili February 23, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Thanks.

ND February 21, 2011 at 7:32 PM

I would love to have one of those T-38 jets. They look like a fun little plane to fly. But that would mean having money, air strip, support crew, skill to fly … no fear of heights.

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