Discovery poised for return to International Space Station
May 26, 1999
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) -- Weather conditions appeared favorable for the space shuttle Discovery to lift off on schedule early Thursday and begin the second manned mission to the fledgling International Space Station.
NASA forecast 80 percent acceptable conditions for the 6:48 a.m. liftoff from Cape Canaveral. Previous forecasts had indicated a greater chance of fog. The nine-day mission follows the longest launch drought for the reusable spacecraft since the Challenger mission.
"Everybody I've been talking to recognizes that this long dry spell is not necessarily good," mission commander Kent Rominger said in an interview.
On Saturday, the shuttle is scheduled to dock with the unmanned space station and begin unloading almost two tons of supplies for future inhabitants, including laptop computers, a printer, cameras, tools, spare parts and clothing. The first two segments of the International Space Station (ISS) have orbited idly since December, when the last shuttle crew to fly linked the U.S.-and Russian-built modules.
A house without furniture
Rominger will lead a multinational crew of seven who will prepare the ISS for the arrival of the Russian-built living quarters, known as the service module, scheduled for deployment later this year.
"The station that's up there is like a house with no furniture," says crew member Daniel Barry, a mission specialist. "It's ready to be lived in, but it doesn't have the things you need day-to-day."
Discovery will stay linked to the budding station for six days. Besides toting equipment, the crew will replace some broken gear. Midway through the flight, astronauts Tammy Jernigan and Barry will step outside for a six-hour spacewalk. They will leave behind tools and components for future space construction crews and place a U.S.-built crane on the station's exterior. Another 45 space missions will be necessary to complete the giant space station, expected to total more than 100 modules and stretch the length of two football fields. The $40 billion to $60 billion effort to create a permanent research outpost in space involves 16 nations and will take at least five years to finish.
Other payloads on board
Other payloads aboard Discovery include:
The Student Tracked Atmospheric Research Satellite (STARSHINE), a basketball-size probe intended to train international students to track the spacecraft visually for several months and perform experiments related to the atmosphere.
The Shuttle Vibration Forces Experiment (SVF), designed to gather data about the forces shuttle equipment endures during a mission.
The Orbiter Integrated Vehicle Health Monitoring Technology Demonstration, which will record the performance of various onboard systems, data which may be used to enhance the safety and efficiency of future shuttle flights.
Holliman room to be dedicated
After the launch, NASA will hold a dedication ceremony in honor of late CNN national correspondent John Holliman for his enthusiastic, dedicated coverage of America's space program.
NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin will dedicate the John Holliman Auditorium at Kennedy Space Center in a formal ceremony at 9 a.m. Participating in the dedication will be Holliman's widow, Dianne Holliman, and Tom Johnson, CNN News Group chairman, president and CEO.
"John Holliman was excited about the space program, and he easily conveyed that excitement to his viewers," Goldin said. "He held us accountable when we had problems, but he also understood the importance of overcoming obstacles and discovering the unknown."
"I know that John would be absolutely delighted with having the Kennedy Space Center's press auditorium named after him, given his passion for covering the U.S. space program and his dedication to journalism," Johnson said. "I can think of no one else more deserving of this honor."
Holliman was killed in an automobile accident in September. The auditorium was built in 1980 and since then has been the focal point for news coverage of space shuttle launches.
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.