STS-121 Shuttle Commander: 'We're ready.'

STS-121 Shuttle Commander: 'We're ready.'
Launch Pad 39B workers help STS-121 mission commander Steven Lindsey into a flight harness as he conducts a launch dress rehearsal with his crewmates on June 15, 2006. (Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.)

CAPECANAVERAL, Fla. - With a launchrehearsal in the bag, the next astronautcrew to ride NASA's space shuttle Discovery into orbit is primed for aplanned July space shot, the mission's commander said Friday.

"This crewis ready, we're ready," veteran shuttle astronaut Steven Lindsey, commander ofDiscovery's STS-121mission, told reporters here at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

Thismorning Lindsey and his six fellow crewmates popped into Discovery's FlightReadiness Review (FRR) meeting, where shuttle managers and engineers are inthe midst of a two-day session to go over the orbiter's launch preparations.  

"We had a chance to go into that and talk to those folks for a few minutes,"Lindsey said, adding that he introduced his crew and thanked everyone whoworked hard to support Discovery's STS-121 mission. "We, like you, are lookingforward to hearing the results of that review."

Discovery'sSTS-121 spaceflight will mark NASA's second shuttle mission since the 2003 Columbia accident and thefinal test flight before International Space Station (ISS) constructionresumes. The mission will test shuttle inspection and repair techniques, aswell as deliver vital supplies and equipment to the space station.

NASA plansto hold a pressconference no earlier than 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) Saturday on the FRRmeeting, which is expected to yield a firm launch date for Discovery. Themission has a flight window that stretches between July 1 and July 19.

Discovery'sSTS-121 crew, however, will not be at KSC to listen in on the FRR results.After two days of trainingand launch rehearsals, the astronauts headed back to NASA's Johnson Space Center today for a final round ofsimulations before going into quarantine in just over one week's time.

"For me,this has been a dream for an awful lot of years, so I've prepared for this,"astronaut Michael Fossum, a mission specialist andspacewalker for the STS-121 mission, told reporters. "I've been thinking aboutthis for a long time."

Fossum,who is making his first spaceflight with STS-121, said the mission is becomingmore real for his wife Melanie and their four children, and that the family hastaken time to talk about it.

"I thinkit's a lot harder on our families than it is on us when we go fly," addedLindsey, who has three children of his own with his wife Diane. "As soon as we launch, we are just working nonstop and that's all we'rethinking about. But the families are not, they're thinking about us."

NASA'spost-Flight Readiness Review press conference will air live on NASATV no earlier than 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Saturday. You are invitedto follow along with the press briefing using'sNASATV feed, which is available by clicking here.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.