Discovery Launch Planned for December 7

NASA senior managers have picked December 7 for the next launch for the space shuttle Discovery. If all goes well, STS-116 will blast off at 9:35 pm local time (0235 GMT December 8) carrying 7 astronauts, and return to the International Space Station. This time, the construction job will be to install a new section of the station’s girder-like truss, and activate its power and cooling systems.

During the 12-day mission and three spacewalks, the crew will work closely with flight controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, to install a new segment of the station’s girder-like truss and activate the station’s permanent, complex power and cooling systems.

The launch date was announced after a traditional meeting, known as the Flight Readiness Review. During the two-day meeting, top NASA managers and engineers assess any risks associated with the mission and determine whether the shuttle’s equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight.

“What struck me during this meeting was how complex this mission is and how it fits into the next series of assembly missions,” said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier, who chaired the Flight Readiness Review. “We had a very good discussion on a lot of topics and our teams worked hard to make sure we had all the information we need to set our launch date for next Thursday.”

Joining Commander Polansky aboard Discovery will be Pilot Bill Oefelein, mission specialists Bob Curbeam, Joan Higginbotham, Nicholas Patrick, European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang and Sunita Williams. Williams will remain aboard the station for six months. ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter, who has lived on the station since July, will return to Earth on Discovery.

For more information about the STS-116 mission, including images and interviews with the crew, visit:

Original Source: NASA News Release