NASA Gives "Go" for Space Shuttle Launch on Oct. 23
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA senior managers Tuesday completed a detailed review of space shuttle Discovery’s readiness for flight and selected Oct. 23 as the official launch date. Commander Pam Melroy and her six crewmates are scheduled to lift off at 11:38 a.m. EDT on the STS-120 mission to the International Space Station.
Tuesday’s meeting included a discussion about concerns raised by the NASA Engineering and Safety Center regarding the reinforced carbon carbon on three of Discovery’s wing leading edge panels. This issue initially was brought before the Space Shuttle Program during a two-day, preliminary review held last week to assess preparations for Discovery’s mission.
“After a thorough discussion and review of all current engineering analysis, we have determined that Discovery’s panels do not need to be replaced before the mission,” said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting.
During the shuttle’s 120th mission, the shuttle and station crews will work with flight controllers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, to add a module to the station that will serve as a port for installing future international laboratories. The Harmony module will be the first expansion of the living and working space on the station since 2001. The upcoming mission also will move the first set of solar arrays installed on the station to a permanent location on the complex and redeploy them.
The 14-day mission includes five spacewalks - four by shuttle crew members and one by the station’s Expedition 16 crew. Discovery is expected to complete its mission and return home at 4:47 a.m. EST on Nov. 6.
Joining Commander Melroy on STS-120 will be Pilot George Zamka and mission specialists Scott Parazynski, Stephanie Wilson, Doug Wheelock, Daniel Tani and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency. Tani will remain aboard the station and return with the STS-122 crew, which is targeted to launch Dec. 6. Current Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson will return to Earth on Discovery after nearly five months on the station.
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