Discovery stretching her legs

by Chris Bergin

Shuttle Orbiter Discovery has made the short trip to the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) for the milestone mating with her External Tank and Solid Rocket Boosters.

Discovery left her OPF (Orbiter Processing Facility 3) at this afternoon UK time, in preparation for the second test Shuttle mission, STS-121, which is currently set to launch in July.

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It’s been nearly a year since Discovery launched the first test flight of the final Shuttle manifest on STS-114. However, issues with the liberation of foam from the PAL ramp on the External Tank held back the return to regular missions.

Still, should NASA manage a ‘clean’ flight this summer, the space agency will kick off a 17 flight manifest (inclusive of STS-121) to finish off the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS).

Discovery was set to rollover yesterday, but a broken jack screw on the sling that will raise the orbiter over the transfer aisle to the stack was found to be broken upon inspection.

That was fixed this morning, allowing the rollover to take place.

Discovery mating should take place later tonight in what is set to be a busy day for the Shuttle Program. The Launch Team will be conducting launch countdown simulations from 7:00 am to about 3:30 pm local time.

The sims do not involve the flight crew but the Mission Control Team in Houston will be participating.

Full review of yesterday’s PRCB to appear in a series of articles later today. Majority of the 28 documents are now available on L2.


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