Ladies and gentlemen, start your engine!
The 3-hour process of fueling the space shuttle Discovery began this morning at 7:25 a.m. EST by NASA technicians in preparation for this afternoon’s 4:50 p.m. scheduled launch.
This will be the last flight for Discovery before it is retired by NASA. This particular mission has been three months in the making — the original launch was scheduled for November 1st, but due to bad weather and some mechanical problems, it was delayed. The purpose of this mission is to supply the International Space Station with food and various other supplies and equipment.
A final inspection team will thoroughly check the shuttle today to ensure there is no presence of ice and nothing else seems out of character prior to the launch. Discovery’s three main engines have been provided with fuel and oxidizer. The journey to orbit will last eight and a half minutes.
Besides the actual launch, other activities surrounding the launch today include:
- A pre-launch press conference at 11 a.m. EST
- Full launch coverage beginning at 11:30 a.m. EST
- The launch at 4:50 p.m. EST
- A post-launch news conference at 5:45 p.m. EST
A full run-down of the crew’s activities for the next few days is available on NASA’s Web site.
Some of the cable news networks will likely carry the launch live. Your cable or satellite provider might carry NASA TV with their basic options, but either way, you can watch everything live online. For more information about NASA TV, go here.
Following this launch, the Shuttle Endeavor is scheduled to blastoff on April 19th (with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly on board). The Shuttle Atlantis is then supposed to take off on June 28th, which will mark the final journey for the shuttle program.
Will your family tune in for today’s historic launch?
Image: Wikimedia Commons