Crew of 100th shuttle mission set for space station balancing act
Discovery rolls toward launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center
(CNN) -- Discovery is poised to lift off October 5 for the 100th space shuttle flight, a mission to build more of the International Space Station. Its crew is scheduled to log the longest spacewalk time ever while preparing the station for its first residents.
NASA announced Friday that Discovery had been cleared to launch
for the mission, days after shuttle managers fixed a leak in the
orbiter's propulsion system.
The shuttle will carry aloft a 9-ton exterior truss and a
3-ton docking port that astronauts will attach to the
modular station during almost 30 hours of spacewalking.
"This mission begins the true station build-up in orbit," said
Ron Dittemore, space shuttle program manager. "We're taking the
level of complexity up a notch over the past few station
Discovery astronauts will deliver four gyroscopes to the orbiting
outpost, which will be used to give it a sense of balance.
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Japanese crew member Koichi Wakata is to use Discovery's
50-foot (15-meter) robotic arm to move the box holding the gyroscopes
from the shuttle cargo bay to the station.
Fellow astronauts will go outside the station to wire up the
gyroscope truss and prepare it for the attachment of large
solar-power arrays, expected to arrive at the station in December.
The spacewalkers also will mount a docking port to the U.S.
module Unity, to which shuttles will attach on future missions.
During a fourth and final jaunt into space, astronauts Jeff
Wisoff and Michael Lopez-Algeria plan to take small emergency
jetpacks for a test spin. If future station residents become
untethered while on a spacewalk, the jetpacks would allow them
to maneuver back to safety.
After the spacewalks, the seven-member crew will enter the station
to deliver supplies for its first residents, a three-man team
expected to arrive in early November for a four-month stay.
At the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, shuttle technicians were
preparing Discovery for the launch. Testing this week confirmed that repairs of a leak on Discovery's main propulsion system were successful, NASA said.
The International Space Station
The launch is scheduled October 5 at 9:3p a.m. EDT. Discovery is
expected to return 11 days later.
The mission is the second of nine planned for a
12-month period that began with the September 8 launch of Atlantis.
Similar numbers of flights are expected for at least several
years. The launch schedule is the busiest in the shuttle's
Most of the flights are to the space station, which currently
consists of three modules. It should receive another in January
with the arrival of the U.S. segment Destiny, which will host a
variety of laboratory experiments.
The space station is a $60 billion effort of 16 nations. The
modular complex will spread over almost an acre and have as much
pressurized space as a Boeing 747 when completed, perhaps by 2005.
Shuttle lands at Cape Canaveral
September 20, 2000
Shuttle departs from newly outfitted space station
September 18, 2000
Astronauts, cosmonauts begin working inside space station
September 12, 2000
Shuttle crew sleeps before spacewalk preparations
September 10, 2000
Shuttle blasts off on mission to make space station 'a home'
September 8, 2000
Shuttle Orbiter Discovery
Human Space Flight (HSF) - International Space Station
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