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NASA: Space Shuttle Discovery STS-128

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PRESS KIT describing the mission
Latest news from NASA:Discovery Performs Orbital Adjustment Burn
Thursday, September 10, 2009 12:08 PM
Space shuttle Discovery performed an orbital adjustment burn at 12:02 p.m. EDT to avoid an unidentified piece of debris. Although unclear, the object is believed to be from the mission’s third spacewalk.
Discovery to Perform Orbital Adjustment Burn
Thursday, September 10, 2009 10:59 AM
Today’s wakeup song was “Good Day Sunshine” by the Beatles, played for Pilot Kevin Ford at 10:59 a.m. EDT.

Space shuttle Discovery will perform an orbital adjustment burn at 12:02 p.m. to avoid an unidentified piece of debris.

The latest tracking data indicates that the debris will move in and out of the conjunction box around Discovery. The first time it would move within the box would be at about 12:55 p.m. Although unclear, the object is believed to be from the mission’s third spacewalk.

After the maneuver, the debris will no longer be an issue.

This move will not have an impact on the shuttle’s deorbit burn times scheduled for today, which begin with a planned deorbit burn at 5:59 p.m. and a daylight landing at 7:05 p.m. The next opportunity is one hour after sunset with the deorbit burn at 7:36 p.m. and a landing at 8:42 p.m.
Possible Engine Firing to Avoid Debris; Landing Scheduled Today
Thursday, September 10, 2009 9:05 AM
Ground crews are trying to determine whether an orbital adjustment engine firing is needed to move space shuttle Discovery out of the path of a piece of orbital debris. If needed, the burn will be executed at 12:02 p.m. EDT.

Thursday’s landing opportunities begin with a planned deorbit burn at 5:59 p.m. EDT and a daylight landing at 7:05 p.m. The next opportunity is one hour after sunset with the deorbit burn at 7:36 p.m. EDT and a landing at 8:42 p.m. EDT.
Discovery Ready for Landing
Wednesday, September 09, 2009 9:50 PM
Space shuttle Discovery underwent the Flight Control System checkout and Reaction Control System hotfire using all the primary jets. A piece of debris jarred loose from the shuttle during the checkout, though it was determined not to be a piece of the thermal protection system. Late inspection results cleared Discovery’s wing leading edge and nose cap and the shuttle is ready for landing.

Thursday’s landing opportunities begin with a planned deorbit burn at 5:59 p.m. EDT and a daylight landing at 7:05 p.m. The next opportunity is one hour after sunset with the deorbit burn at 7:36 p.m. EDT and a landing at 8:42 p.m. EDT.
Crew Completes Flight Control Systems Tests
Wednesday, September 09, 2009 4:51 PM
The STS-128 crew have tested space shuttle Discovery’s flight control systems in preparation for Thursday’s landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
All seven crew members gathered for a final media interview opportunity taking questions from CBS News, ABC News and CNN.
Crew Prepares for Thursday Landing
Wednesday, September 09, 2009 11:07 AM
Today’s wakeup song was “Sailing” by Rod Stewart, played for Christer Fuglesang at 11 a.m. EDT.

Flight Director Richard Jones’ entry team is on console in Mission Control Houston, working with Discovery’s crew to prepare for a planned landing at 7:05 p.m. Thursday at Kennedy Space Center, Florida. There is a chance of thunderstorms within 30 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility at the time of landing.
Discovery to Perform Landing Tests Wednesday
Tuesday, September 08, 2009 9:52 PM
On Wednesday, space shuttle Discovery’s crew will peform the Flight Control System checkout and the Reaction Control System hot-fire. Landing is scheduled for Thursday at 7:05 p.m. EDT at Kennedy Space Center.

Discovery’s undocking occurred Tuesday at 3:26 p.m. The fly-around took place as the shuttle flew about 650 feet from the station using its primary reaction control system steering jets rather than the normal vernier thrusters.

The STS-128 crew completed all its major objectives including three spacewalks, transferring 17,000 pounds of cargo and delivery of three major research facilities.
Crew Performing Final Inspection of Discovery
Tuesday, September 08, 2009 6:34 PM
After performing a flawless undocking and flyaround, the STS-128 crew now is set to conduct a final inspection of Discovery’s wing leading edge and nose cap.  Managers should see the results at tomorrow’s Mission Management Team briefing.  There are no indications of concern.

Discovery is targeting a landing Thursday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The preliminary landing weather forecast looks fairly typical, with a possibility of rain.

Program managers are still targeting Nov. 12 for the launch of the next shuttle mission, STS-129, but are assessing the possibility of launching as early as Nov. 9.
Post-Mission Management Team Briefing Moved to 5:45 p.m.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009 5:37 PM
The STS-128 post-Mission Management Team news briefing will now begin at 5:45 p.m. EDT on NASA TV.
Discovery Undocks
Tuesday, September 08, 2009 3:28 PM
Pilot Kevin Ford undocked Space shuttle Discovery from the International Space Station at 3:26 p.m. EDT while the two spacecraft flew 223 miles above western China, near the Mongolian border.

After backing Discovery away to a distance of 400 feet, Ford will perform a fly-around at 3:55 p.m. The 3/4 -lap around the station will enable the shuttle crew to survey and photograph the complex. Discovery will perform a maneuver to separate from the station at 5:09 p.m.
Discovery to Undock Today
Tuesday, September 08, 2009 11:11 AM
Today’s wakeup song was “Beautiful Day” by U2, played for Tim Kopra at 11 a.m. EDT.

Space shuttle Discovery’s crew undocks from the International Space Station at 3:26 p.m. and performs a fly around at 3:55 p.m. to capture photographs and video of the station. NASA Television will air a post-Mission Management Team news briefing at 5:30 p.m. and a Mission Status Briefing at 9 p.m.
Hatches Between Station and Shuttle Closed
Monday, September 07, 2009 11:15 PM

  • Discovery’s Heat Shield Cleared for Entry

    Mon, 31 Aug 2009 08:16:07 PM EDT

    Mission Control has informed the shuttle crew that Discovery’s heat shield has been cleared for entry and that there is no need for a focused inspection on Wednesday.

    Tonight’s mission status briefing with ISS Flight Director Ron Spencer will begin at 8:30 p.m. EDT on NASA TV.

  • Leonardo Transfer Complete

    Mon, 31 Aug 2009 07:53:53 PM EDT

    The transfer and installation of the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) from Discovery’s payload bay to the Earth-facing port on the station’s Harmony module was completed at 5:56 p.m. EDT.

    After leak checks and pressurization, the teams are expected to open the hatches to the cargo module at 1:34 a.m. Tuesday.

  • Crews Focusing on Logistics Module Transfer

    Mon, 31 Aug 2009 01:40:17 PM EDT

    Gloria Estefan’s “Mi Tierra” was played for space shuttle Discovery Mission Specialist Jose Hernandez at 1:30 p.m. EDT.

    Discovery and International Space Station crew members will focus on the transfer of the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module from Discovery’s payload bay to the station’s Harmony node. Later, the crew will open Leonardo’s hatch and move the new life support and science research racks into the space station.

    At 4 p.m., NASA television will air a post-Mission Management Team news briefing with Space Shuttle Program Deputy Manager and MMT Chairman LeRoy Cain.

  • Crew Swap Complete

    Mon, 31 Aug 2009 12:24:58 AM EDT

    At 11:49 p.m. EDT, Nicole Stott exchanged Soyuz seat liners with space station Flight Engineer Tim Kopra. Stott now is a member of the space station Expedition 20 crew, and Kopra is a member of Discovery’s crew. Kopra spent 44 days as a member of Expedition 20.

  • Hatches Open Between Shuttle and Station

    Sun, 30 Aug 2009 10:39:41 PM EDT

    The crews have opened hatches between the two spacecraft and will be conducting the traditional Welcoming Ceremony. About 30 minutes later, Discovery mission specialist Nicole Stott and station Flight Engineer Tim Kopra will exchange Soyuz seat liners and titles, as Stott becomes a station Flight Engineer and Kopra a shuttle mission specialist. NASA Television will air a Mission Status news briefing at midnight to recap today’s rendezvous and docking activities.

  • Discovery Arrives at International Space Station

    Sun, 30 Aug 2009 08:59:49 PM EDT

    Using space shuttle Discovery’s reaction control system jets, Commander Rick Sturckow, steered the shuttle to a soft docking with the International Space Station at 8:54 p.m. EDT. The crews will open hatches between the two spacecraft at 10:59 p.m. and conduct the traditional Welcoming Ceremony. About 30 minutes later, Discovery mission specialist Nicole Stott and station Flight Engineer Tim Kopra will exchange Soyuz seat liners and titles, as Stott becomes a station Flight Engineer and Kopra a shuttle mission specialist.

    NASA Television will air a Mission Status news briefing at midnight to recap today’s rendezvous and docking activities.

  • Discovery Arrives at International Space Station

    Sun, 30 Aug 2009 08:54:24 PM EDT

    Space shuttle Discovery finished its chase to the International Space Station with a docking at 8:54 p.m. EDT.

  • Shuttle Performs Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver

    Sun, 30 Aug 2009 08:08:50 PM EDT

    At 8:03 p.m. EDT, space shuttle Discovery’s Commander Rick Sturckow began the planned Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, guiding the shuttle through a nine-minute back flip while space station crew members Gennady Padalka and Mike Barratt snap digital pictures with 400- and 800-millimeter lenses. Taken from a distance of about 600 feet, these high-resolution images will be downlinked to Mission Control in Houston, where experts will use them to evaluate the condition of Discovery’s heat shield.

  • Shuttle on Final Path to Station

    Sun, 30 Aug 2009 06:34:30 PM EDT

    Space shuttle Discovery began rendezvous operations at 3:29 p.m. EDT and has performed a series of minor maneuvers to close the gap with the International Space Station.

    At 6:27 p.m., eight miles away from the station, Discovery used its left orbital maneuvering system engine for an 11-second Terminal Initiation burn, placing the shuttle on the final path for docking at 9:04 p.m. About an hour before docking, while 600 feet directly under the station, Commander Rick Sturckow will guide Discovery through a nine-minute back flip to enable station crew members Gennady Padalka and Mike Barratt to photograph the shuttle heat shield.

  • Discovery Crew Prepares for Docking Today

    Sun, 30 Aug 2009 01:52:50 PM EDT

    Space shuttle Discovery’s crew was awakened at 1:30 p.m. EDT with the song “Made to Love” by Toby Mac and played for Mission Specialist Nicole Stott. Commander Rick Sturckow and his six crewmates will dock Discovery to the International Space Station this evening, after completing a series of rendezvous operations and maneuvers that begin at 3:29 p.m. The Terminal Initiation Burn is targeted for 6:25 p.m. The Rendezvous Pitch Maneuver, planned to enable station crew to photograph Discovery’s heat shield from a distance of about 600 feet, is scheduled for 8:02 p.m. Docking will follow at 9:04 p.m.

    Two news briefings will air on NASA Television today, a 4 p.m. Post-Mission Management Team briefing and a midnight Mission Status Briefing.

  • STS-128 Crew Prepares for Docking

    Sun, 30 Aug 2009 12:29:45 AM EDT

    During their first full day in space, astronauts aboard Discovery conducted a daylong inspection of the space shuttle’s thermal protection system, checked out spacesuits and prepared to dock with the International Space Station.

    With Commander Rick Sturckow at the controls, Discovery is scheduled to link up with the space station at 8:03 p.m. CDT Sunday.

  • Heat Shield Inspections Continuing

    Sat, 29 Aug 2009 09:27:13 PM EDT

    The survey of space shuttle Discovery’s heat shield is ongoing. The second flight day’s Mission Status Briefing with Tony Ceccacci, STS-128 lead flight director, is scheduled for midnight EDT. The briefing will air live on NASA Television.

  • Crew Inspecting Heat Shield

    Sat, 29 Aug 2009 06:50:12 PM EDT

    The STS-128 crew is using Discovery’s robotic arm, orbiter boom extension and specialized cameras to capture detailed video of the spacecraft’s heat shield. The imagery will be reviewed by specialists to ensure there was no damage from liftoff.

  • Heat Shield Inspection for Crew

    Sat, 29 Aug 2009 02:53:54 PM EDT

    The crew of space shuttle Discovery woke at 2:30 p.m. EDT to start work on the first full day of their 13-day mission. The seven-person crew will focus on heat shield inspections and preparations docking to the International Space Station Sunday.

    Overnight, the Flight Control Team reported the failure of one of two small steering jets that flank the orbiter nose due to a leak. This will have no impact to docking, other mission activities or entry, but the crew will close a manifold to isolate both jets and disable them from use for the remainder of the mission.

  • Discovery in Orbit, Chasing Space Station

    Sat, 29 Aug 2009 12:18:13 AM EDT

    With seven astronauts and a host of experiments and equipment on board, space shuttle Discovery completed a flawless ascent into orbit Friday night to begin a two-day chase of the International Space Station. With Commander Rick “C.J. ” Sturckow at the controls, the shuttle lifted off on-time at 11:59 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew will rendezvous and dock with the station Sunday and the crew will begin transferring equipment to the outpost during the 13-day mission.

    After flying up on Discovery, Nicole Stott will trade places with station resident Tim Kopra, who went into space last month aboard Endeavour. Equipment and science racks for the orbiting laboratory are riding inside the Leonardo cargo module, which is secured tightly inside Discovery’s payload bay. The module will be lifted out of Discovery and locked onto the station so the crew can transfer the gear efficiently. The treadmill named for comedian Stephen Colbert also is aboard Discovery and destined for the station.

  • Discovery Launches!

    Sat, 29 Aug 2009 12:05:10 AM EDT

    Space shuttle Discovery and its seven astronauts are rocketing toward orbit after a brilliant nighttime liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The shuttle’s solid rocket boosters separated as planned and the three main engines are now powering the shuttle during its 8 1/2-minute climb.

  • UPDATE 28 August 2009 8:41 p.m. EDT
    Shuttle Commander Climbs Aboard Discovery
    Discovery skipper Rick “C.J.” Sturckow and astronauts Nicole Stott have climbed aboard the shuttle for tonight’s launch attempt at 11:59 p.m. EDT (0359 Aug. 29 GMT). The weather continues to be clear for tonight’s launch attempt. Shuttle pilot Kevin Ford will be the next to board the shuttle.

    UPDATE Friday 8/28/2009 , 3:23 PM
    Tanking Under Way For 11:59 p.m. Launch
    Liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen are flowing into the gigantic orange external tank of space shuttle Discovery this afternoon at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The tanking operations began at 2:45 p.m. EDT and it will take three hours to load the 500,000 gallons of propellants into the structure. The fuel will be consumed in 8 1/2 minutes as Discovery’s three main engines power the shuttle into orbit.

    Launch is scheduled for 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight. Forecasters call for a 60 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time.

    The mission management team reported that all the testing and analysis of Discovery’s fill-and-drain valve during the last two days gives them a high degree of confidence the valve is working. Procedures have been approved in case there is a similar issue with the position sensor on the hydrogen fill-and-drain valve.

    The plan includes being able to open and close the valve, or cycle it, two times during the tanking process if the valve position indicator sensor doesn’t work. Teams would use alternate means, including monitoring pressure in the system, to provide confidence the valve is closed for launch.

    Launch Team Targets Aug. 28 Launch

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009 10:23 PM
    NASA is targeting space shuttle Discovery for a launch attempt Friday morning at 12:22 a.m., mission management team Chairman Mike Moses said. Engineers will evaluate a liquid hydrogen valve that developed problems during tanking operations Tuesday evening. Detailed test data about the valve will be examined before Discovery’s fuel tank is loaded with propellant ahead of Friday morning’s launch attempt.

    Its 13 day mission is to switch NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra, with flight engineer Nicole Smith. Science gear, spare parts, and fresh supplies will also be on board the Discovery shuttle.

    A total of 3 spacewalks are planned; including prep work for the Tranquility node scheduled to arrive in February, 2010.

    The Mission Control Center will be watching the fuel tank carefully………. as will the entire world ….to avoid past dangers of the heat shields from breaking off.

    090824-space-endeavour.hmediumDiscovery’s planned liftoff could be final chance see launch at night
    By Joe Rao Space.com

    updated 3:39 p.m. ET, Mon., Aug 24, 2009

    People in the eastern United States will get a great opportunity, weather permitting, to see the space shuttle Discovery launched into orbit early Tuesday morning. And it might also be the final opportunity ever to see a nighttime shuttle launch.

    This flight (STS-128) will be the 30th to rendezvous and dock with the International Space Station (ISS), and the glow of the shuttle’s engines will be visible along much of the Eastern Seaboard. A SPACE.com map shows the area of visibility.

    To reach the space station, Discovery must be launched when Earth’s rotation carries the launch pad into the plane of the station’s orbit. For mission STS-128, that will happen at 1:36:05 a.m. ET on Tuesday, resulting (if all goes as planned) in NASA’s second nighttime launch of a space shuttle in 2009 (the most recent was March 15).

    As has been the case with other launches to the ISS, Tuesday’s liftoff will bring the shuttle’s path nearly parallel to the U.S. East Coast.

    After this mission, there could only be just six more flights left before the shuttle program finally comes to a close (tentatively set for September 2010). Of those six remaining flights, five are to be launched during the midday or morning hours.  One mission, STS-130, involving shuttle Endeavour is currently scheduled to be launched just before sunrise on Feb. 4.  That launch would come during morning twilight, but unless it’s delayed, or if the current launch schedule significantly changes, this week’s predawn launch of Discovery could be the very last time a shuttle is launched in total darkness.

    What to expect
    In the southeast United States, depending on a viewer’s distance from Cape Canaveral, Fla., the “stack” (shuttle orbiter, external tank and solid rocket boosters) can be easily followed thanks to the fiery output of the solid rocket boosters. The brilliant light emitted by the two solid rocket boosters will be visible for the first 2 minutes and 4 seconds of the launch out to a radius of some 520 statute miles from the Kennedy Space Center.

    Depending on where you are located relative to Cape Canaveral, Discovery will become visible anywhere from a few seconds to just over 2 minutes after it leaves Pad 39-A.
    For an example of what all this looks like from Florida, see video of a night launch made by Rob Haas from Titusville, FL, on Dec. 9, 2006 (the STS-116 mission).

    After the solid rocket boosters are jettisoned, Discovery will be visible for most locations by virtue of the light emanating from its three main engines. It should appear as a very bright, pulsating, fast-moving star, shining with a yellowish-orange glow. Based on previous night missions, the brightness should be at least equal to magnitude -2; rivaling Sirius, the brightest star in brilliance. Observers who train binoculars on the shuttle should be able to see its tiny V-shaped contrail.

    James E. Byrd shot video of the shuttle from Virginia after a November 2000 night launch. The bright star Sirius briefly streaks through the scene giving a sense of scale and brightness to the shuttle’s glow.

    Where to look090309-shuttle-spot-map-02

  • Southeast U.S. coastline: Anywhere north of Cape Canaveral, viewers should initially concentrate on the south-southwest horizon. If you are south of the Cape, look low toward the north-northeast. If you’re west of the Cape, look low toward the east-northeast.
  • Mid-Atlantic region: Look toward the south about 3 to 6 minutes after launch.
  • Northeast: Concentrate your gaze low toward the south-southeast about 6 to 8 minutes after launch.
  • For most viewers, the shuttle will appear to literally skim the horizon, so be sure there are no buildings or trees to obstruct your view.

    Depending upon your distance from the coastline, the shuttle will be relatively low on the horizon (5 to 15 degrees; your fist on an outstretched arm covers about 10 degrees of sky). If you’re positioned near the edge of a viewing circle, the shuttle will barely come above the horizon and could be obscured by low clouds or haze.

    If the weather is clear, the shuttle should be easy to see. It will appear to move very fast; much faster than an orbiting satellite due to its near orbital velocity at low altitudes (30-60 mi). It basically travels across 90 degrees of azimuth in less than a minute.

    Shuttle in motion
    Discovery will seem to “flicker,” then abruptly wink-out 8 minutes and 24 seconds after launch as the main engines shutdown and the huge, orange, external tank (ET) is jettisoned over the Atlantic at a point about 795 statute miles northeast of Cape Canaveral and some 430 statute miles southeast of New York City. At that moment, Discovery will have risen to an altitude of 341,200 feet (64.6 statute miles), while moving at 17,552 mph (mach 24.6) and should be visible for a radius of about 770 statute miles from the point of Main Engine Cut Off (MECO).

    Following MECO and ET separation, faint bursts of light caused by reaction control system (RCS) burns might be glimpsed along the now-invisible shuttle trajectory; they are fired to build up the separation distance of the orbiter from the ET and to correct Discovery’s flight attitude and direction.

    Lastly: before hoping to see the shuttle streak across your local sky, make sure it has left the launch pad!

    Assuming a good load for Discovery’s fuel cell system, Discovery should be able to make four launch attempts in five days. Should the launch be scrubbed, the liftoff time will occur an average of 24 minutes earlier per day. If, for example, the launch is scrubbed on Aug. 25, liftoff on Aug. 26 is scheduled for 1:10:21 a.m. ET; on Aug. 27 it’s 12:49:49 a.m. ET. Should weather or technical issues delay the launch until Sept. 1, liftoff would then be scheduled for 10:23:07 p.m. ET.

    Getting views during the mission
    During this 13-day mission, both the shuttle and the International Space Station will be visible during the predawn hours across North America and Europe. Those across the northern U.S. and Canada will have visibility through all 12-days, but those across the southern states will only have views during the last several days of the mission.

    During the mornings of Aug. 25 and 26 and Sept. 5 and 6, it may be possible to see Discovery and the ISS as two separate entities, appearing as bright moving “stars.” At all other times during the mission, you’ll see only one singular bright moving star, as that will be when the two space vehicles are docked together.

    So what is the viewing schedule for your particular hometown? You can easily find out by visiting one of these four popular Web sites: Chris Peat’s Heavens Above, Science@NASA’s J-Pass, NASA’s SkyWatch and Spaceweather.com. Each will ask for your zip code or city, and respond with a list of suggested spotting times. Predictions computed a few days ahead of time are usually accurate within a few minutes. However, they can change due to the slow decay of the space station’s orbit and periodic reboosts to higher altitudes. Check frequently for updates.

    Another great site is this one, which provides real-time satellite tracking and shows you at any given moment during the day or night over what part of the Earth the ISS or shuttle happens to be.

    © 2009 Space.com. All rights reserved. More from Space.com.
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