STS-116: Countdown begins

by Chris Bergin

The countdown clock at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida has begun to tick down from T-1 day, 19 hours, towards the third Shuttle launch of the year.

The countdown to the first launch attempt of Shuttle Discovery – her second launch of the year – is targeting a December 7 lift-off at 9:35pm local time, the first night launch since the loss of Columbia.

**Over 2100mb of STS-116 onwards related presentions and mission documentation available on L2 **

**LIVE news updates on Discovery STS-116 Processing**

**LIVE news updates on Atlantis STS-117 (STS-317) Processsing Flow**

Known as S0007 Launch Countdown Operations (full presentations available on L2), Discovery will undergo a final series of rigorous testing for what will be her 33rd flight. **Free video of the Countdown starting can be viewed here**

Weather forecasts remain favorable for the first attempt, with only a 20 percent chance of a breach of Launch Commit Criteria (LCC). Discovery currently has a 10 day launch window, which can be extended should NASA decide to bring into play their plans to deal with YERO (Year End Rollover).

Her mission is being described as the most complex ever to be carried out on an assembly flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

‘We have several things going on, on STS-116. We’re going to take up a part of the truss structure, called, P5. And we call it a spacer; and, in essence, it goes at the end of P4, which is another truss structure which has a pair of solar arrays,’ noted STS-116 Commander Mark Polansky.

‘Eventually there will be another piece, P6, which has been in orbit for a long time now but in a temporary location. It eventually will go way out on the portside of the station. P5 is the connecting piece between P4 and P6. So, that’s an important piece that needs to get installed.

‘Once we get up there, we’re going to reconfigure the electrical system. Right now we have again sort of a preliminary, temporary electrical system set up. It does a great job providing power, but it’s not as robust as we need it to be in the future.

‘Once P5 is installed, we will be doing a lot of the rewiring of the space station to get the primary electrical system working. That’s going to be a very critical thing for the station.’

Also involved on the mission will be a crew rotation with Thomas Reiter, who is returning home after a six month stay onboard the ISS, swapping places with STS-116’s Suni Williams.

‘One of the other main things we’re doing is taking up Suni Williams, who is, going to round out the Increment 14 crew,’ added Polansky She’ll be that, third crew member on that flight. We’ll bring back Thomas Reiter, who launched with STS-121. We’ll bring him back home.’

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