Feeds

Discovery poised for final mission

Everything 'going beautifully' for launch tonight

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Space shuttle Discovery is poised to launch tonight on its 39th and final mission – a last trip to the International Space Station which will end a career stretching over 26 years.

The rotating service structure moves away from space shuttle Discovery. Photo: NASANASA last night retracted the rotating service structure which protects the venerable vehicle on Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A – ahead of pumping "more than 535,000 gallons of super cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen" into its external fuel tank this morning.

Mission management team head Mike Moses said yesterday: "Everything is on track and going beautifully with the countdown. We're really looking forward to a very action-packed, successful mission and everything is on track."

Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach added: "We're not tracking any issues and it looks like Discovery will fly this time."

Weather officer Kathy Winters described conditions at Kennedy as "exceptional", with "only a 20 percent chance that weather will be prohibitive at launch time".

Discovery will bow out by delivering vital spares and the converted multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo to the orbiting outpost. Leonardo – now dubbed the Permanent Multipurpose Module – is set for attachment to the Earth-facing side of the orbiting outpost's Unity node.

The STS-133 mission crew comprises commander Steven Lindsey, pilot Eric Boe, and mission specialists Michael Barratt, Steve Bowen, Alvin Drew, and Nicole Stott. Bowen and Drew are scheduled to carry out two maintenance spacewalks.

Also on board for Discovery's swansong is Robonaut 2, aka R2, which will become "the first human-like robot in space" designed "to demonstrate how dexterous robots behave in space".

Robonaut shakes hands with with his human counterpart. Pic: NASA

R2 will travel inside the Leonardo module for later unpacking and testing. The immediate ambitions for the robonaut are modest, but NASA hopes that "through upgrades and advancements, it could one day venture outside the station to help spacewalkers make repairs or additions to the station or perform scientific work".

Discovery is due to blast off at 21:50 GMT. NASA's STS-133 mission section is right here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.