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[b]NASA Sets Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Date[/b]
Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to begin a 13-day flight to the International Space Station with a launch at 6:21 a.m. EDT on April 5 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Discovery's launch date for the STS-131 mission was announced Friday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems and procedures are ready.
STS-131 is the second of five shuttle missions planned for 2010, with the last flight targeted for a September launch.
Discovery will deliver science and supplies to the station. Inside the shuttle's cargo bay is the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo, a pressurized "moving van" that will be temporarily attached to the station. The module is filled with supplies, a new crew sleeping quarters and science racks that will be transferred to the station's laboratories. The flight will include three spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the station's truss, or backbone, install a spare ammonia storage tank and return a used one, and retrieve a Japanese experiment from the station's exterior.
Commander Alan Poindexter and his crew are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy at approximately 7 a.m. on Thursday, April 1 for final launch preparations. Joining Poindexter are Pilot Jim Dutton, Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson, Clay Anderson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. This mission is the first trip into space for Dutton, Lindenburger and Yamazaki.
STS-131 will be Discovery's 38th mission and the 33rd shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.
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