The astronauts are getting ready; space shuttle Discovery is getting ready. Are you ready for this fourth-to-the-last flight? Preparations have begun in earnest for the next shuttle mission, STS-131. The astronauts arrived at Kennedy Space Center Monday evening and will be here for several days of the standard prelaunch training called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test. They arrived at the Shuttle Landing Facility airstrip, and all expressed their excitement for the mission and their thanks to the people at KSC who prepare the shuttle for flight.
“We are really happy to be here at Kennedy Space Center,” said Alan Poindexter, Commander of STS-131. “It’s a beautiful day to be here and we’re really looking forward to our dress rehearsal for launch, and are looking forward to seeing Discovery rollout to the pad. We’ve been training really hard, and just got out of simulations (in Houston) this morning. We’re all working hard getting ready for this flight.”
Making her first flight, Educator-astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenberger, said “Thanks to those at KSC who do many hours of hard work to so we can fly. This is my first flight and I’ve always looked forward to this week.”
Clay Anderson, who spent 5 months on the ISS in 2007, will be staying for only the short duration of the mission this time. “I’m looking forward to going back home to the space station,” he said. I’ve had great time training with this crew.”
Discovery is scheduled to begin rollout from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Pad 39A, with first motion is targeted for 12:01 a.m. EST Wednesday. Live coverage of the move will be shown on NASA TV beginning at 6:30 a.m EST (1130 GMT) .
Discovery will carry a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks for the laboratories aboard the station. The mission has three planned spacewalks, with work to include replacing an ammonia tank assembly, retrieving a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior, and switching out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 segment of the station’s truss structure.
STS-131 will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the station. Launch is currently set for April 5, 2010. Only four more shuttle missions are currently on the manifest.
Thanks to Alan Walters (awaltersphoto.com) for the great images of today’s crew arrival.