Sunday, 27 February 2011

Shuttle Discovery Docks With Space Station for Last Time

The Space shuttle Discovery docked with the International Space Station at 2:14 p.m. EST Saturday, STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey reversed Discovery into pressurized mating adapter #2 on the International Space Station’s Harmony node.

Docked over Australia

The two spacecraft were flying about 220 miles above western Australia at the time they docked.

Discovery was the first space shuttle to dock to a space station when it docked to Russia’s Mir station on mission STS-91 on June 4, 1998. Discovery also was the first shuttle to dock to the International Space Station on STS-96 on May 29, 1999. This was Discovery’s 13th and final docking to the space station.

Discovery crew board Space Ststion 

The shuttle and station crews opened hatches at 4:16 p.m. Discovery’s crew of Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Steve Bowen, Mike Barratt and Nicole Stott joined Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka, Alexander Kaleri, Dmitry Kondratyev, Paolo Nespoli, and Cady Coleman

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery Launched on Final Mission

The Space Shuttle Discovery launched from Launch Pad 39A in perfect conditions at 4:50 p.m. EST, after a last minute drama at 5 minutes to launch when the hold went within 15 seconds of aborting due to a problem on the range that was resolved just in time!

Shuttle Mission STS-133

Mission STS-133 is to deliver essential equipment to the International Space Station.  The six astronauts are led by Commander Steve Lindsey and Pilot Eric Boe, who are in the two forward seats on the flight deck with Mission Specialists Alvin Drew and Nicole Stott sitting behind them. On the lower level or middeck are astronauts Steve Bowen and Michael Barratt.

Final Flight of Discovery

Following the STS-133 mission, Discovery will be the first of the shuttle fleet to retire. 
STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey said “Besides the excitement of completing the International Space Station and all the things we do, I hope people get a sense of the history of what the shuttle is and what we’ve done and what’s ending. Because they’ll probably never see anything like it flying again.”

Shuttle Discovery landing

Shuttle Discovery is returning to Earth on March 7, 2011, with a target landing time of 12:44 p.m. EST, at the Kennedy Space Center, when it will have completed eleven days in space.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Shuttle Discovery's launch tomorrow at 4:50 p.m. EST

At today's pre-launch news conference NASA's mission management team have given their unanimous approval for space shuttle Discovery's launch tomorrow at 4:50 p.m. EST.   "Everything is on track and going beautifully with the countdown," said Mike Moses, mission management team chair. "We're really looking forward to a very action-packed, successful mission and everything is on track."

Weather forecast good

The weather at the launch site remains exceptional with only a 20 percent chance that weather will be prohibitive at launch time. The only slight issue may be a localized off-shore shower in the late afternoon. The forecast during tanking is also looking good.

NASA TV Coverage

At 7:15 a.m. EST NASA TV will begin coverage of the fueling of the external tank. Launch coverage for Discovery's final mission to the International Space Station will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery Ready for Launch

NASA managers declared Discovery ready to launch next week on a mission to the International Space Station following a daylong Flight Readiness Review on Friday. Discovery is scheduled to launch Thursday, Feb. 24, at 4:50 p.m. EST.

Review of test results

Managers, engineers and contractors went over the detailed analysis and testing performed on the support beams of Discovery's external fuel tank during the session and reviewed the repairs and modifications made. The processes of the repairs and testing involved people throughout the agency and its centers.

Shuttle crew change

The crew also underwent a change recently when astronaut Steve Bowen was assigned to take the place of Tim Kopra who was injured in a bicycle accident.  "Overall the crew was in really good shape and felt really comfortable with this change," said Mike Moses, chairman of the Mission Management Team.

Discovery is poised for Launch

Discovery is poised on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The countdown is to begin Monday at 3 p.m.
Final voyage of Discovery

Discovery flew its maiden voyage on Aug. 30, 1984, on the STS-41D mission.  Later missions included NASA’s return to flight after the loss of Challenger (September 1988) and Columbia (July 2005), launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in April 1990, the final Shuttle/Mir docking mission in June 1998 and Senator John Glenn’s shuttle flight in October 1998. When Discovery retires this year it will have flown in space 39 times, more than any other shuttle.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Shuttle Discovery Crew Lock Down

On Thu, 17 Feb 2011 Technicians preparing Space Shuttle Discovery for launch on the 24th of February closed the inter tank door on the shuttle's external fuel tank at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Teams are performing final inspections on the spacecraft and will fill up several orange bags with water at the flame trench at Launch Pad 39A.

The sausage-shaped bags called ‘water troughs’ are suspended beneath the nozzles of the solid rocket boosters. At ignition, they burst open and the water helps dampen the sound waves generated by the boosters.

At NASA's Johnson Space Center, STS-133 crew members are enjoying a day off today before entering quarantine in their crew quarters in advance of the targeted launch date.
The crew consists of Commander Steven Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, Steve Bowen and Nicole Stott. Bowen replaced astronaut Tim Kopra, who was injured in an accident in January.

Discovery will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and provide critical spare components to the International Space Station. This will be the 35th shuttle mission to the station and the final mission for the elderly spacecraft.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Colliding Galaxies form 'heart' in space

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has found a pair of colliding galaxies over 430 million light years from Earth in the shape of a giant pink heart.

Mysterious black holes

The new discovery, code named Arp 147, is the result of two galaxies colliding in deep space. The result of this cataclysmic event is an expanding wave of new stars, exploding supernovas and mysterious black holes with mass that could be twenty times that of our Sun. Studies with NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and ultraviolet observations with NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) have enabled scientists to estimate that the most intense formation of new stars in these galaxies may have ended 15 million years ago. 

Amazing pictures of colliding galaxies

A composite image of Arp 147 has been prepared by the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore.  Stunning images of colliding galaxies have been created by combining X-rays from the NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, which show as pink, with red, green and blue optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope. 
Giant ring of black holes in space

Sources:  NASA February 9, 2011 and October 1st, 2010 issue of The Astrophysical Journal, Authors Saul Rappaport and Alan Levine from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David Pooley from Eureka Scientific and Benjamin Steinhorn, also from MIT.

Photo Credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/S Rappaport et al