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STS-116
Greg
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Post Posted: Fri Oct 27, 2006 8:06 pm
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STS-116

STS-116 is currently scheduled to launch no earlier than December 7, 2006. Hey, maybe that day can live in famey while it's also living in infamy! lol

The next Space Shuttle flight will deliver the P5 truss segment to the International Space Station. That's "P" for "port" and "5" for the fifth element out from the center. (Except that there's no P2. No S2, either. Those segments are lost in the peculiar history of the space statio program.)

The P5 segment holds another set of solar arrays and the power storage and distribution equipment.

The crew is getting ready for the flight! They've been training for this flight for six years, so they've probably got a pretty good idea of what they'll have to do and how to do it. Here's a nifty picture from one of my favorite toys, the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, taken during a training run for Bob Curbeam and Christer Fuglesang.


Curbeam and Fuglesang rehearse under water for STS-116

And here's another one. Did you know that NASA astronauts use virtual reality simulations? It's not exactly the Star Trek holodeck, but it's a start!


Astronaut Bob Curbeam in the VR Lab
It looks like he's holding a camera mockup that's made for the NBL.

The object he's holding looks like it's made of ultra-high-molecular-density polyethylene. That's nifty stuff because it has exactly the same specific weight as water and it's easy to machine. An engineer named John Manford discovered it while designing some of the mockups for my ISS EVA development test program, and it's been all the rage ever since.

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Greg
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Post Posted: Wed Nov 15, 2006 6:42 pm
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Discovery is on the pad! Grin

Here's a pretty picture from November 9, 2006 as she's on her way.


Discovery Rolls Out to the Launch Pad


And here she is being delivered at the pad:


Discovery at the Pad for STS-116, November 9, 2006

Once the crawler-transporter has delivered the Shuttle and Mobile Launch Platform to the pad, the MLP jacks up so that the crawler-transporter can crawl out from underneath. When the crawler is clear, the jacks lock down the Mobile Launch Platform.

After that, the Rotating Service Structure (to the left in the photo above) rotates into position, engulfing the Space Shuttle in the Orbiter-shaped enclosure that you can see in the photo.

You can also see the Orbiter Access Arm with the "White Room" at the end, right in the center of the photo just above the middle. As soon as Discovery gets settled in, the Orbiter Access Arm will rotate into position so that technicians and crew can access the crew compartment.

The launch window for STS-116 opens on Pearl Harbor Day.

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Greg
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Post Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 8:49 pm
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T-9 Minutes and Holding


STS-116 at T-9 minutes and holding

STS-116 is currently in a built-in hold at T minus 9 minutes, scheduled for launch tonight at 9:35 Eastern Standard Time.

There's some risk of weather but at the moment it appears that the weather is improving so there's a good chance that the Shuttle will launch in about 45 minutes.

You can see the launch live on NASA TV or on the web at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/live_tv.html

The webcast runs about 30 seconds behind the direct satellite feed.

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Post Posted: Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:38 pm
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Rats. The launch was scrubbed for tonight, due to weather.

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Post Posted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 11:32 am
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L minus 9 hours and counting, but...

The weather forecasters are only giving it a 30% chance of launch today because there's a cold front hanging around the Cape.

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Greg
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Post Posted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 8:57 pm
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Launch!
    8:47 p.m. - Ten... nine... eight... we have a go for main engine start... five... four... three... two... one... booster ignition and liftoff of the Space Shuttle Discovery, lighting up the night-time sky as we continue building the International Space Station.

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Post Posted: Sat Dec 09, 2006 9:06 pm
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KSC-06PD-2731 (12/09/2006) --- KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLA. -- The STS-116 crew members greet well-wishers as they head to the Astrovan that will take them to Launch Pad 39B. Leading the way, at right, is Commander Mark Polansky. The others, from left, are Mission Specialists Sunita Williams, Robert Curbeam, Nicholas Patrick, Christer Fuglesang and Joan Higginbotham; and Pilot William Oefelein.



Updated: 8:47 p.m. EST
Space Shuttle Discovery and a crew of seven astronauts lifted off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39B at 8:47 p.m. EST, kicking off the most complicated and challenging mission to the International Space Station to date.

The warm glow of Discovery's solid rocket boosters and trio of main engines lit the night sky for miles throughout the Kennedy area, marking the first night launch of a space shuttle in four years.

The launch culminated a countdown challenged only by a cold front dominating weather across the spaceport. Packing cloud cover and gusty winds, the front caused the scrub of Thursday's launch and posed an early threat to this evening's attempt before weakening in time for liftoff.

With a successful climb to orbit now behind them, Commander Mark Polansky and his crew can get down to the business of rewiring the station and installing a new segment of the outpost's integrated truss system. During the mission, ISS Flight Engineer Sunita Williams will take her place on the station, relieving Thomas Reiter, who will return to Earth with shuttle Discovery.

The STS-116 mission is the 33rd for Discovery and the 117th space shuttle flight. During the 12-day mission, the crew will continue construction on the International Space Station, rewiring the orbiting laboratory and adding a segment to its integrated truss structure.

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Post Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:41 pm
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And then, today, after a very successful flight that involved four EVA sorties, they landed this afternoon at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Shuttle's approach path took it over Houston, and we heard the sonic boom!

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STS-116
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