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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 construction flights."

Discovery astronauts will deliver four gyroscopes to the orbiting outpost, which will be used to give it a sense of balance.

A 360° stroll through the
International Space Station

Cult 3-D model of the
International Space Station

Cult 3-D model of the
Space shuttle Columbia


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 19-year history.

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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