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  STS-119: Readying Discovery for space

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Author Topic:   STS-119: Readying Discovery for space
Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-07-2009 05:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
STS-119 (ISS assembly flight 15A) is the next scheduled space shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS), scheduled to be flown by orbiter Discovery. It will deliver and assemble the fourth starboard integrated truss segment and the fourth set of solar arrays the station. Launch is currently planned for February 12, 2009 at 7:32 a.m. EST.

At Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Discovery completed its journey from Orbiter Processing Facility-3 to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on January 7. The shuttle began its short trip at just before 2:30 p.m. EST and arrived in the VAB's transfer aisle approximately an hour later.

Discovery will next be hoisted vertically to be mated with its solid rocket boosters and external fuel tank inside the building's high bay.

The shuttle stack is scheduled to rollout to Pad 39A on January 14, the next milestone toward the start of the STS-119 mission.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-08-2009 09:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA's Space Shuttle Discovery to Move to Launch Pad Wednesday

Space shuttle Discovery is scheduled to roll out to Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, Jan. 14, as preparations for the STS-119 mission move forward. Discovery is targeted to lift off Feb. 12 to the International Space Station.

The first motion of the shuttle out of Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building is scheduled for 4 a.m. EST. The fully assembled space shuttle, consisting of the orbiter, external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters, will be delivered to the pad atop a crawler transporter that will travel slower than 1 mph during the 3.4-mile journey. The process is expected to take approximately six hours.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of Discovery's rollout to the launch pad beginning at 6:30 a.m. Video highlights of the rollout will air on NASA TV's Video File.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-09-2009 01:10 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

Jay Chladek
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posted 01-09-2009 11:44 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is that the set of SRBs and ET they originally stacked for the STS-125 Atlantis Hubble mission last year?

NavySpaceFan
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posted 01-10-2009 06:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavySpaceFan   Click Here to Email NavySpaceFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yep, that's ET 127.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-14-2009 07:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Discovery's cargo, the S6 truss segment and solar arrays, was transferred to the pad this past Sunday and was lifted into changeout room a day later.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-14-2009 07:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space shuttle Discovery, atop a crawler transporter, began its 3.4-mile trip from the Vehicle Assembly Building to Pad 39A at 5:17 a.m. EST on January 14.

Rollout was delayed slightly so that technicians could work minor issues related to an aft skirt purge and with the mobile launcher platform heaters, which are needed when temperatures are below 45 degrees.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-14-2009 07:04 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's Shuttle Discovery Arrives at Launch Pad, Practice Liftoff Set

After reaching its launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Discovery now awaits its next major milestone for the upcoming STS-119 mission. A launch dress rehearsal, known as the terminal countdown demonstration test, is scheduled to take place at Kennedy from Jan. 19 to 21.

Discovery arrived at Launch Pad 39A at 10:08 a.m. EST Wednesday on top of a giant crawler-transporter. The crawler-transporter left Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building at 5:17 a.m. Wednesday, traveling less than 1 mph during the 3.4-mile journey. The shuttle was secured on the pad at 12:16 p.m.

The STS-119 astronauts and ground crews will participate in the practice countdown. The test provides each shuttle crew with an opportunity to participate in various simulated countdown activities, including equipment familiarization and emergency training.

The following events are associated with the test. All times are Eastern.

  • Jan. 19 - STS-119 crew arrival: The astronauts will arrive at 11:30 a.m. at the Shuttle Landing Facility and will take questions from the media immediately following arrival. The arrival will be broadcast live on NASA Television.

  • Jan. 21 - STS-119 crew walkout: The astronauts will depart from the Operations and Checkout Building at 7:45 a.m. in their flight entry suits in preparation for the countdown demonstration test at the launch pad. The walkout will not be broadcast live but will be part of the NASA TV Video File.
Dates and times of events are subject to change.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-20-2009 12:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote

The STS-119 crew arrived at Kennedy Space Center on Monday to participate in the terminal countdown demonstration test (TCDT).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-22-2009 07:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
After practicing emergency egress from the pad, the STS-119 crew members pose on the 225-foot level for a crew photo.
On Pad 39A, Discovery's payload bay doors are closed. The cargo inside includes the integrated truss structure S6 and solar arrays for the International Space Station.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-03-2009 05:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The STS-119 Flight Readiness Review concluded today without setting a date for the launch. Previously targeted for February 12, continued concerns over hydrogen flow control valves have caused mission managers to postpone the decision until they meet again next week.

As of today, STS-119 will launch no earlier than February 19 at 4:41:47 a.m. EST.

tegwilym
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posted 02-03-2009 07:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for tegwilym   Click Here to Email tegwilym     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So the space station "jiggle problem" hasn't affected this flight?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-03-2009 07:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Only the hydrogen flow control valves are at issue; the station is ready to support the arrival of STS-119.

NASA release:

Shuttle Discovery Launch Now No Earlier Than February 19

During a review of space shuttle Discovery's readiness for flight, NASA managers decided Tuesday to plan a launch no earlier than Feb. 19. The new planning date is pending additional analysis and particle impact testing associated with a flow control valve in the shuttle's main engines.

Discovery's STS-119 mission to the International Space Station originally had been targeted for Feb. 12.

The valve is one of three that channels gaseous hydrogen from the engines to the external fuel tank. One of these valves in shuttle Endeavour was found to be damaged after its mission in November. As a precaution, Discovery's valves were removed, inspected and reinstalled.

The Space Shuttle Program will convene a meeting on Feb. 10 to assess the analysis. On Feb. 12, NASA managers and contractors will finalize the flight readiness review, which began Tuesday, to address the flow control valve issue and to select an official launch date.

The 14-day mission will deliver the station's fourth and final set of solar arrays, completing the orbiting laboratory's truss, or backbone. The arrays will provide the electricity to fully power science experiments and support the station's expanded crew of six in May. Altogether, the station's 240-foot-long arrays can generate as much as 120 kilowatts of usable electricity -- enough to provide about forty-two 2,800-square-foot homes with power.

Discovery also will carry a replacement distillation assembly for the station's new water recycling system. The unit is part of the Urine Processing Assembly that removes impurities from urine in an early stage of the recycling process. The Water Recovery System was delivered and installed during the STS-126 mission in November, but the unit failed after Endeavour's departure.

Joining Archambault on STS-119 will be Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, Richard Arnold, John Phillips, Steve Swanson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata will replace Sandra Magnus aboard the station. She will return home with the Discovery crew after three months in space.

Former science teachers Acaba and Arnold are now fully-trained NASA astronauts. They will make their first journey to orbit on the mission and step outside the station to conduct critical spacewalking tasks.

STS-119 will be Discovery's 36th mission and the 28th shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.

Hydrogen flow control valve

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-06-2009 01:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mission managers, citing a need for more time to conduct and study the results of tests, are delaying their next meeting from Tuesday to Friday, February 13.

As of result, STS-119 will launch no earlier than February 22 at 3:31:01 a.m. EST.

NASA release

NASA Continues Assessment of the Next Shuttle Mission

Because of an ongoing review of the space shuttle's flow control valves, NASA managers are rescheduling meetings next week to assess the launch readiness of shuttle Discovery's STS-119 mission to the International Space Station.

The Space Shuttle Program will hold a meeting Feb. 13 to review data and determine whether to move forward with a flight readiness review on Feb. 18. The official launch date will be set at the readiness review, but for planning purposes launch now is no earlier than Feb. 22.

There are three valves that channel gaseous hydrogen from the shuttle's main engines to the external fuel tank. One of these valves in shuttle Endeavour was found to be damaged after its mission in November. As a precaution, Discovery's three gaseous hydrogen valves were removed, inspected and reinstalled.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-13-2009 07:57 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 Sets Feb. 20 News Conference To Discuss Next Space Shuttle Mission

NASA will hold a news conference Friday, Feb. 20, following a review of space shuttle Discovery's readiness for flight and an assessment of shuttle flow control valve testing. An official launch date for the STS-119 mission has not been set, but for planning purposes, liftoff now is targeted for no earlier than Feb. 27.

The new planning date is not expected to affect the launch dates for missions that will follow Discovery's flight, STS-125 to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and STS-127 to the International Space Station.

Teams from multiple NASA centers and contractor sites have made significant progress in understanding what caused the damage to a flow control valve in shuttle Endeavour during its mission in November. There are three valves in each shuttle that channel gaseous hydrogen from the main engines to the external fuel tank. The engineering teams have performed a tremendous amount of work, including computer modeling and actual tests to determine the consequences if a piece of a valve were to break off and strike shuttle and external fuel tank components. More time was needed to complete analyses and testing necessary to fly safely.

NASA Television and the agency's website will broadcast the Feb. 20 briefing live.

The briefing participants are:

  • Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier
  • Space Shuttle Program Manager John Shannon
  • Space Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach
Should they decide to launch on Friday, February 27, the time will be 1:32 a.m. EST.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-21-2009 12:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Defers Setting Next Shuttle Launch Date

During a thorough review of space shuttle Discovery's readiness for flight, NASA managers decided Friday that more data and possible testing are required before launching the STS-119 mission to the International Space Station.

Engineering teams have been working to identify what caused damage to a flow control valve on shuttle Endeavour during its November 2008 flight.

"We need to complete more work to have a better understanding before flying," said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington who chaired Friday's Flight Readiness Review. "We were not driven by schedule pressure and did the right thing. When we fly, we want to do so with full confidence."

The shuttle has three flow control valves that channel gaseous hydrogen from the main engines to the external fuel tank. Teams also have tried to determine the consequences if a valve piece were to break off and strike part of the shuttle and external fuel tank.

The Space Shuttle Program has been asked to develop a plan to inspect additional valves similar to those installed on Discovery. This plan will be reviewed during a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 25. Afterward, the program may consider setting a new target launch date.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-24-2009 07:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spaceflight Now: March launch of Discovery possible, but not certain
NASA managers today ordered engineers to replace suspect hydrogen flow control valves aboard the shuttle Discovery with valves that have less flight time in a bid to reduce the chances of in-flight cracks that could lead to debris in a pressurization line. If ongoing tests and higher fidelity computer models continue to show positive results, Discovery could be cleared for a delayed launch attempt by around March 12, sources said today. That would give NASA just two or three launch opportunities before standing down until April 7 to avoid conflict with a Russian Soyuz mission to the international space station.

A decision to set a new target launch date could come as early as Wednesday, but sources said it was not a done deal because engineers are still debating the root cause of the valve problem that has grounded Discovery. The results of ongoing tests, however, along with the predictions of more realistic computer modeling, may convince skeptics the shuttle's internal plumbing can withstand impacts from valve debris should cracks develop in flight.

While that remains to be seen, a brief update on NASA's web site late today indicated a plan for moving forward could be in place by Wednesday.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-25-2009 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
Space Shuttle Program Completes New Plan for Next Launch

NASA's Space Shuttle Program has established a plan that could support shuttle Discovery's launch to the International Space Station, tentatively targeted for March 12. An exact target launch date will be determined as work progresses with the shuttle's three gaseous hydrogen flow control valves.

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians have started removing Discovery's three valves, two of which will undergo detailed inspection. Approximately 4,000 images of each valve will be reviewed for evidence of cracks. Valves that have flown fewer times will be installed in Discovery. Engineering teams also will complete analysis and testing to understand the consequences if a valve piece were to break off and strike pressurization lines between the shuttle and external fuel tank. Hardware modifications may be made to the pressurization lines to add extra protection in the unlikely event debris is released.

NASA and contractor teams have been working to identify what caused damage to a flow control valve on shuttle Endeavour during its November 2008 flight. Part of the main propulsion system, the valves channel gaseous hydrogen from the main engines to the external tank. After a thorough review of shuttle Discovery's readiness for flight on Feb. 20, NASA managers decided more understanding of the valve work was required before launching Discovery.

The Space Shuttle Program will hold a meeting March 4 to review new data and assess ongoing work. Managers then will determine whether to move forward with a flight readiness review March 6.

If Discovery's tentative launch date holds, there will be no effect on the next two shuttle launches: STS-125 to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and STS-127 to the International Space Station.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-03-2009 10:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Spaceflight Now: Shuttle meeting to review valve work and launch date
NASA managers will meet Wednesday to assess ongoing tests and inspections of suspect hydrogen flow control valves and to discuss whether to press ahead with a flight readiness review Friday that would set the stage for launch of the shuttle Discovery on March 11 or 12. Valve testing has not turned up any major show stoppers, sources say, and a different inspection technique adds confidence three valves being installed aboard Discovery this week are, in fact, free of any cracks that could worsen in flight and release debris inside a critical external tank pressurization line.

Engineers are still debating whether braces should be installed on three 90-degree bends in the pressurization lines just five inches away from the valves in question. Debris released from a cracked valve could hit an elbow joint at high speeds, possibly causing a rupture in a worst-case scenario.

...If shuttle managers decide Wednesday that test data supports pressing ahead, an executive-level flight readiness review will be held at the Kennedy Space Center on Friday to set an official launch date. As of this writing, the unofficial target is March 12, but sources say managers are optimistic about moving the target up one day, to March 11, if engineers don't encounter any additional problems.

If so, commander Lee Archambault and his six crewmates would return to the Kennedy Space Center on Sunday for the start of the countdown to launch. In that case, liftoff would be targeted for 9:20:10 p.m. next Wednesday. If March 12 eventually is selected, the countdown would begin Monday evening for a liftoff at 8:54:27 p.m. next Thursday.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2009 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On Pad 39A, technicians worked to install on March 3 three new gaseous hydrogen flow control valves on space shuttle Discovery.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-04-2009 05:57 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 Sets March 6 News Briefing About Next Space Shuttle Mission

NASA will hold a news conference Friday, March 6, following a review of space shuttle Discovery's readiness for flight and an assessment of shuttle flow control valve testing and inspection. The news conference will begin no earlier than 2:30 p.m. EST at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The flight readiness review is expected to set an official launch date for the STS-119 mission. For planning purposes, liftoff now is tentatively targeted for March 11.

The Space Shuttle Program moved the targeted launch a day earlier following extensive review of flow control valve inspection data and assessment of ongoing and planned work. A formal presentation of the flow control work and a thorough evaluation of all aspects of flight will be made at Friday's readiness review.

Three flow control valves, one for each space shuttle main engine, channel gaseous hydrogen from the engines through the main propulsion system and back to the external fuel tank. This flow regulation maintains the tank's structural integrity and delivers liquid hydrogen to the engines at the correct pressure. NASA and contractor teams have been working to identify what caused damage to a flow control valve on shuttle Endeavour during its November 2008 flight.

The briefing participants are:

  • Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • John Shannon, Space Shuttle Program manager, NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston
  • Mike Leinbach, Space Shuttle launch director, NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida
NASA Television and the agency's Web site will broadcast the March 6 briefing live.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-06-2009 11:39 AM     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 March 11

NASA managers completed a review Friday of space shuttle Discovery's readiness for flight and selected the official launch date for the STS-119 mission. Commander Lee Archambault and his six crewmates are now scheduled to lift off to the International Space Station at 9:20 p.m. EDT on March 11.

Discovery's launch date was announced following Friday'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.

The review included a formal presentation of the shuttle's flow control valve work, initiated after NASA identified damage to a valve on shuttle Endeavour during its November 2008 flight. Using a detailed inspections, there are three valves that have been cleared of crack indications now installed in Discovery to support the STS-119 mission.

The three flow control valves, one for each space shuttle main engine, channel gaseous hydrogen from the engines through the main propulsion system and back to the external fuel tank. This flow regulation maintains the tank's structural integrity and delivers liquid hydrogen to the engines at the correct pressure.

Discovery's STS-119 flight will deliver the space station's fourth and final set of solar array wings, completing the station’s truss, or backbone. The arrays will provide the electricity to fully power science experiments and support the station's expanded crew of six in May. The 14-day mission will feature four spacewalks to help install the S6 truss segment to the starboard, or right, side of the station and the deployment of its solar arrays. The flight also will replace a failed unit for a system that converts urine to potable water.

Archambault will be joined on STS-119 by Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, John Phillips and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata. Wakata will replace space station crew member Sandra Magnus, who has been aboard the station for more than four months. He will return to Earth during the next station shuttle mission, STS-127, targeted to launch in June 2009.

Former science teachers Acaba and Arnold are now fully-trained NASA astronauts. They will make their first journey to orbit on the mission and step outside the station to conduct critical spacewalking tasks.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2009 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The countdown to the launch of space shuttle Discovery began at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday at the T-43 hour mark, leading to a 9:20 p.m. liftoff on Wednesday.

Discovery's seven-person crew, led by STS-119 mission commander Lee Archambault arrived by T-38 jet at the Kennedy Space Center just a few hours earlier at 2:45 p.m.

"We're excited to be bringing the S6 truss up for the final complement of power to the space station," said Archambault. "We're ready to get going, and we'll start the process today."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-10-2009 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is L-1 but you would hardly know it from the lack of activity at the Kennedy Space Center press site.

According to a morning briefing by NASA Test Director Steve Payne, there are no technical issues and the weather forecast for Wednesday evening's launch remains at 90% favorable.

The countdown will enter the T-11 hour hold for 13 hours, 7 minutes at 3:00 p.m. EDT, resuming at 4:55 a.m. Wednesday. During that time, at approximately 1 a.m., the Rotating Service Structure (RSS) will be rolled back to reveal space shuttle Discovery.

STS-119 commander Lee Archambault and pilot Tony Antonelli took turns today landing the shuttle training aircraft. Flying over the space center, the astronauts had no trouble seeing their spacecraft on Pad 39A, where a team of workers were going through their own procedures leading up to tomorrow night's launch scheduled for 9:20 p.m. EDT.

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