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  STS-124: Discovery carries Hope for a new era (Page 1)

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Author Topic:   STS-124: Discovery carries Hope for a new era
Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-19-2008 04:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Gives 'Go' for Space Shuttle Launch on May 31

quote:
NASA senior managers completed a review Monday of space shuttle Discovery's readiness for flight and selected May 31 as the official launch date for the STS-124 mission. Commander Mark Kelly and his six crewmates are scheduled to lift off to the International Space Station at 5:02 p.m. EDT.

Discovery's 14-day flight will carry the largest payload so far to the station and includes three spacewalks. It is the second of three missions that will launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. The crew will install Kibo's large Japanese Pressurized Module and Kibo's robotic arm system. Discovery also will deliver new station crew member Greg Chamitoff and bring back Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who will end a three-month stay aboard the outpost.

Discovery's launch date was announced after the conclusion of Monday's Flight Readiness Review. During the meeting, top NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight.

Commander Kelly will be joined on STS-124 by Pilot Ken Ham and Mission Specialists Karen Nyberg, Ron Garan, Mike Fossum, Chamitoff and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide.


Robert Pearlman
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The launch windows for STS-124 were revised on Friday, according to NASA PAO.
Atmospheric forces that place a natural drag on the ISS have been calculated by Flight Dynamics to be lower than predicted, creating some unpredictability in the usually stable launch windows this close to launch. And, it has been some time since the last phasing burn for ISS. The last one was conducted a few weeks ago by the ATV. Hence, the latest update to launch times for Discovery.

This revision represents new numbers run yesterday by Flight Dynamics. The preferred in-plane launch time on May 31 is now 4:02:11pm CT for a Flight Day 3 rendezvous. A Flight Day 4 rendezvous capability also exists on May 31. Further revisions will be made as warranted.

Robert Pearlman
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At present, there are no issues as remaining work wraps up on Discovery at Pad 39A.

There is a possibility for isolated coastal showers on the morning of launch, but the weather forecast calls for an 80% chance of favorable weather on Saturday evening.

The seven-member STS-124 flight crew is set to arrive at Kennedy Space Center at 11:30 a.m. EDT aboard T-38 jets.

At 3:00 p.m. EDT, the launch countdown will begin at the T-43 hour mark.

Robert Pearlman
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Countdown clocks began counting down from the T-43 hour mark at 3:00 p.m. EDT today for a liftoff of STS-124 on May 31 at 5:02 p.m.

Discovery's seven-member crew arrived at the Kennedy Space Center at about 12:30 p.m. today, touching down at the Shuttle Landing Facility in T-38 jets. "Discovery's perched on the pad, Kibo is ready to go, the weather looks good, and we're about as ready as we could possibly be," said Mission Specialist Mike Fossum. "I think it's time to go fly."

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 05-29-2008 12:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
captions:

"Waddaya mean, we're lost and did I ask for directions?"

"OK, it maybe a 8-minute ride but it's 200 miles 'til our next bathroom break... so go now if you have to."

ejectr
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posted 05-29-2008 05:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ejectr   Click Here to Email ejectr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
..."and remember, one of the bathrooms up there is broken!"

cspg
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posted 05-30-2008 12:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
a slightly sexist note here?

Chris.

P.S. Political correctness is a real pain in the b***!

Jay Chladek
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posted 05-30-2008 02:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mark: "I thought you had the key?!"

Karen: "I don't have the key to the shuttle, you have the key!"

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-30-2008 11:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"After months of hard work and preparation, Discovery and its crew are ready to fly," said NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding during a morning briefing on Discovery's countdown status. "All of our systems are in great shape, we're tracking no issues, and we're right on schedule for tomorrow's launch."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 06:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center in Houston have made a slight adjustment to the shuttle's launch window.
Here are the updated launch windows for Saturday and Sunday from the Flight Dynamics Officer.

Saturday's launch window opens just 57 seconds prior to the preferred in-plane launch time of 4:02:12pm CDT, 5:02:12pm EDT for a Flight Day 3 rendezvous, due to phasing angles. The FD 3 rendezvous window is 5 minutes long for a FD 3 rendezvous. That is what we will shoot for.

We have both a FD 3 and a FD 4 rendezvous capability on Saturday. The FD 4 window extends a little more than 3 minutes beyond the end of the FD 3 window, ending at 4:10:23pm CDT, 5:10:23pm EDT. If the weather is good and all other orbiter elements are go, we will launch into a FD 4 rendezvous case if we have to.

Sunday's launch window is more conventional, only a FD 3 rendezvous capability with the preferred in-plane launch time of 3:39:40pm CDT, 4:39:40pm EDT. The window is 5 minutes long.

Fueling of Discovery's external tank is expected to begin just after 7:30 a.m. EDT and take about three hours to complete. The STS-124 crew will depart their crew quarters for the launch pad at 1:12 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fueling of Discovery's external tank began at 7:38 a.m. EDT. Here are the highlights:
  • 7:38 a.m. - Tanking begins
  • 7:38 - 7:48 a.m. - LO2 Transfer Line Chilldown
  • 7:38 - 7:48 a.m. - LH2 Transfer Line Chilldown
  • 7:48 - 8:38 a.m. - LH2 Slowfill
  • 8:18 - 8:28 a.m. - LO2 Slowfill
  • 8:23 a.m. - LH2 ECO Sensors Wet
  • 8:28 - 10:38 a.m. - LO2 Fastfill
  • 8:38 - 9:53 a.m. - LH2 Fastfill
  • 9:53 - 10:33 a.m. - LH2 Topping
  • 10:38 a.m. - LH2 and LO2 Stable Replenish

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 09:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fueling of Discovery's external tank with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen was completed at 10:36 a.m. EDT.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 01:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Led by commander Mark Kelly, the crew of STS-124 departed the Operations and Checkout Building at 1:12 p.m. EDT. In the building's hallways and outside near the silver Astrovan, employees and other well-wishers gathered to see them off. With waves and smiles, they boarded the van for the 25-minute drive to Pad 39A, where they are now being seated on the flight- and middeck of space shuttle Discovery.

ASCAN1984
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posted 05-31-2008 02:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ASCAN1984   Click Here to Email ASCAN1984     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry I got in late. Who is the astronaut talking with the commentator through the boarding and hatch closure?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 02:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The astronaut color commentator was Jim "Mash" Dutton. He commented that Hoshide was proudly wearing the patch for their astronaut class, as both belong to Group 19 (Hoshide is the first from the class to fly).

Following Dutton was United Space Alliance's Mike Mangione, who held three closeout crew positions for the company. Mike is currently the third shift lead at Pad 39A and is augmenting NASA Public Affairs to describe the process of getting the crew of STS-124 into the space shuttle.

Discovery's hatch is now closed and latched for flight and the closeout crew has begun cabin leak checks.

Robert Pearlman
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With Discovery's cabin vented and the vent valves closed, the closeout crew's work in the White Room is complete and they are now departing the launch pad.

T-10 minutes and counting. The next, and final, planned hold will take place at the T-9 minute mark.

Robert Pearlman
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Viewing the launch from the VIP site are 16 of the 35 astronaut class members of 1978, the "Thirty-Five New Guys" (TFNG), who gathered last night in Cocoa Beach for their 30th anniversary reunion. We expect to have pictures to share, as well as some comments from them, later today.

Also at the VIP site is Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak and, among other members of Congress, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-8), who also happens to be the wife of STS-124 commander Mark Kelly.

Jay Chladek
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posted 05-31-2008 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I only just noticed this. But since this is the first external tank built from the ground up post Columbia, you no longer see the light patches above and below the intertank where the PAL ramps were removed on previous tanks. It gives the tank quite a different appearance at a glance.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 03:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
T-9 minutes and counting!

"It's a gorgeous day to launch," said launch director Mike Leinbach.

"We're going to deliver Kibo, or hope, to the space station," replied STS-124 commander Mark Kelly. "And while we tend to live for today, the discoveries from Kibo will certainly offer hope for tomorrow."

"Stand by for the greatest show on Earth," added Kelly.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 04:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The International Space Station's largest module is now on its way to the outpost...

NASA launched space shuttle Discovery at 4:02:12 p.m. CDT (2202 GMT) on Saturday carrying the tour bus-sized science lab, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's (JAXA) pressurized module (JPM). The Kibo ("Hope") lab, which features an airlock and robotic arm, will be added to the station by the STS-124 crew during their two weeks in space.

The seven-member crew will also transfer supplies to the ISS, including components to fix a faulty toilet, as well as exchange astronauts with the station's long duration crew.

Above, space shuttle Discovery launches on STS-124; photo credit: John Tylko/MIT News Service; below, credit James Brown

Bill Hunt
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posted 05-31-2008 04:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bill Hunt   Click Here to Email Bill Hunt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boy, that was pretty video. Did anyone else notice that there was a foam strike on the port side of the orbiter right in front of the wing? It also looked like something fell off the orbiter on the starboard side later in the flight, though I suppose it could have been a bit of foam from higher on the ET than the camera position.

------------------
Bill Hunt

Harald Kraenzel
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posted 05-31-2008 04:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Harald Kraenzel   Click Here to Email Harald Kraenzel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bill Hunt:
Did anyone else notice that there was a foam strike on the port side of the orbiter right in front of the wing? It also looked like something fell off the orbiter on the starboard side later in the flight.
Yes, I saw both pieces also.

But if I understand it correctly this striking is not that powerful because it is in higher atmosphere and therefore does not have that much energy in hitting the orbiter. But we have to wait for the analyses of the experts.

But finally it was a great launch.

Harald

Jay Chladek
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posted 05-31-2008 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I saw that bit as well at about the 3:30 mark. It was going at about the same velocity as the shuttle, so it doesn't appear to have damaged anything (foam coming off during SRB use is much worse since there the change in velocity is much higher from second to second (and that is when Columbia got hit).

Any idea what the security helicopter was doing hanging around the press site for a few minutes after the liftoff? I know they like to do a fly over right after launch, but it seemed to stay there a lot longer then on previous launch attempts.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 04:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
Any idea what the security helicopter was doing hanging around the press site for a few minutes after the liftoff?
NASA photographers were on-board the helicopter, capturing the scene at the press site.

Jay Chladek
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posted 05-31-2008 04:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
NASA photographers were on-board the helicopter, capturing the scene at the press site.
So, did you guys wave back at them?

Ricky Thompson
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posted 05-31-2008 05:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ricky Thompson   Click Here to Email Ricky Thompson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm hearing some talk about a broken up right SRB. Anyone know anything about this?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 05:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ricky Thompson:
I'm hearing some talk about a broken up right SRB.
All indications are that both SRBs flew flawlessly and video of the SRBs falling show both intact. Are you referring to damage after it landed in the water?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 06:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Bill Hunt:
Did anyone else notice that there was a foam strike on the port side of the orbiter right in front of the wing?
Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Operations, addressed this during a post-launch press conference.
We took a quick look at the ascent video and we saw maybe five pieces of the foam come off the external tank. We don't consider those a big deal to us. Again, this was kind of a learning experience for us in the foam world. They were all late, after the aerodynamic sensitive time. They looked thin, so therefore they are lightweight. And they don't appear to be any impact to us at all. We'll review all the video and all the films later and see what happens...
The other issue reported was the loss of a secondary subsystem that controls the pointing of the left orbital maneuvering system (OMS) engine. LeRoy Cain, chair of the Mission Management Team, explained the situation:
There is a primary and secondary system, little motors, that are used to drive those gimbals to steer the engines. The team saw an indication of a potential failure in one of those strings on the left-hand engine.

What they will need to do know is go do some gimbal checks to determine whether or not it is an instrumentation problem or whether or not the problem is in the actual command part of the system, in which case, the worst case would be a loss of redundancy and we'd still be able to use that engine.

Ricky Thompson
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posted 05-31-2008 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ricky Thompson   Click Here to Email Ricky Thompson     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Are you referring to damage after it landed in the water?
Yes, after impact. Is it normal for them to break up upon impact with the water?

Ricky

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-31-2008 06:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Ricky Thompson:
Is it normal for them to break up upon impact with the water?
It depends upon the definition of "break up".
The nose cap of each booster is jettisoned at an altitude of 2.9 statute miles (2.5 nautical miles/4.6 kilometers) and deploys the pilot parachute. The pilot parachute immediately deploys the drogue parachute which is attached to the top of the frustum, the cone-shaped structure at the forward end of the booster.

At an altitude of 1.3 statute miles (1.1 nautical miles/2.1 kilometers), the frustums separate from the boosters. This releases three main parachutes housed within the frustums. It is these chutes that will quickly slow the booster's speed from 230 miles per hour (370.1 kilometers an hour) to a speed of 51 miles per hour (82.1 kilometers per hour). At approximately seven minutes after liftoff, the boosters will impact the Atlantic Ocean.

So there are parts that separate, though the timeline doesn't seem to match what you are describing. I have asked here (at the KSC press site) and the reports thus far are all negative for any anomalies.

Addendum: By coincidence, there were several members of ATK's management at the restaurant where we had dinner tonight. Among them was the ATK representative who was on console for the launch. He said definitively that the solid rocket boosters were intact.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-01-2008 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day 2

Now circling the Earth aboard Discovery, the STS-124 crew began their first full day in space by the wake-up song "Your Wildest Dreams" by the Moody Blues, which was dedicated to pilot Ken Ham.

Ham and his crewmates will spend the day inspecting the orbiter's heat shield and preparing for their arrival at the International Space Station on Monday.

The crew is using the shuttle's robotic arm to perform a limited inspection of Discovery and the leading edges of its wings to ensure that no damage occurred to the vehicle's thermal tiles during launch.

If required, the usual detailed inspection of the heat shield will be performed later in the mission after the Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) has been returned to Discovery. The OBSS is needed to perform a complete scan but was stowed on the station during STS-123 to make room for the Kibo laboratory's Japanese Pressurized Module in Discovery's payload bay.

The astronauts will extend the Orbiter Docking System Ring and check out rendezvous tools in preparation for their arrival at the ISS, as well as check out the spacesuits they will use during the mission's three scheduled spacewalks.

At 2:47 p.m. CDT, they will participate in media interviews with radio and television stations in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Bryan, Texas.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2008 07:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day 3

The STS-124 crew rose today at 5:32 a.m. CDT to the sounds of "Away From Home" by Josť Molina Serrano, played for Greg Chamitoff.

Discovery is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station at 12:54 p.m.

About an hour before docking, STS-124 commander Mark Kelly and pilot Ken Ham will guide the shuttle through a rendezvous pitch maneuver, or back-flip, giving the Expedition 17 crew the opportunity to take pictures of the orbiter's protective thermal tiles.

The STS-124 and ISS 17 crews are slated to conduct pressure and leak checks to prepare for the opening of the hatches between the two spacecraft, which is scheduled for about 2:50 p.m. They will then greet each other to begin nine days of joint operations.

Robert Pearlman
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In the above photo, taken by Ben Cooper for Spaceflight Now, you can see debris falling into the water at the base of the plume from the launch of Discovery.

The source of that debris can be seen in photos of Pad 39A post-launch, as described by Bill Harwood for CBS: Shuttle launch pad damaged during Discovery's liftoff

Launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center suffered unusual damage during the shuttle Discovery's blastoff Saturday, NASA officials said Sunday.

A photograph of the side of the pad directly behind the "flame trench" used to divert exhaust from the shuttle's solid-fuel boosters shows unidentified debris splashing into water behind the pad as Discovery climbed away. Pictures from a NASA source show buckled concrete and numerous concrete blocks or bricks, presumably from the flame trench, littering a road behind the pad.

NASASpaceflight also details the damage with photos posted to their premium area.

Mr Meek
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posted 06-02-2008 10:20 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, 40 years, 12 Saturn V's, and 59 STS launches will take their toll. Is this the first time either of the pads at LC39 have suffered damage this dramatic?

Jay Chladek
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posted 06-02-2008 10:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One thought that occurred to me watching this launch was the ascent of the shuttle off the pad seemed a little slower then on some previous launches, presumeably due to the heavy payload they were flying. There have been a few other heavy weight launches as well recently with the ISS flights. Part of me wonders if that might have been related to this problem.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2008 10:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Mr Meek:
Is this the first time either of the pads at LC39 have suffered damage this dramatic?
While damage this pronounced is not the norm, it is not (per my understanding) the first time it has occurred.

If I had to guess however, I think you are right to suggest this damage is a factor of the pad's age rather than anything specific to this launch.

Addendum: Looking back at my photographs taken of the pad during the first week of May, it appears that the buckled concrete was made worse by the launch, but was not caused by it.

Mr Meek
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posted 06-02-2008 11:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mr Meek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So, that means the United Space Alliance won't be sending CDR Mark Kelly a bill, then?

NavySpaceFan
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posted 06-02-2008 11:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavySpaceFan   Click Here to Email NavySpaceFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jay Chladek:
One thought that occurred to me watching this launch was the ascent of the shuttle off the pad seemed a little slower then on some previous launches, presumeably due to the heavy payload they were flying.
While KIBO is heavy, it does not have an effect on overall launch weight. Also, the Chandra X-Ray telescope was a heavier payload launched by a heavier orbiter (COLUMBIA). I concur with the age theory.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2008 01:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery docked with the International Space Station at 1:03 p.m. CDT. while flying 210 miles above the South Pacific.

"Houston and Station, capture confirmed," radioed STS-124 commander Mark Kelly, as Discovery "dropped anchor" at the orbiting outpost.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-02-2008 01:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Garrett, you have a beautiful house," radioed Garrett Chamitoff from aboard orbiter Discovery, still separated from the ISS by closed hatches.

"Thank you very much, it has been a pleasure living here," replied Reisman, who will trade places with Chamitoff in nine days and return to Earth with the STS-124 crew.

"Oh my god, it is so beautiful," said Chamitoff.


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