STS-119 Mission Updates: Part 1

STS-119 Mission Updates: Part 1
Space shuttle Discovery roars off Launch Pad 39A on the STS-119 mission atop twin towers of fire that light up the sky after sunset at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff was on time at 7:43 p.m. EDT on March 15, 2009.
(Image: © NASA/Scott Andrews.)

Shuttle ?Go? to Approach ISS
17 March 2009 2:25 p.m. EDT

Mission Control has given the spaceshuttle Discovery the go ahead to fire its engines to startapproaching the International Space Station for today?s planned 5:13 p.m.EDT (2113 GMT) docking today.

The engine burn is due to begin at2:34 p.m. EDT (1834 GMT). Mission Control told space station commander MichaelFincke that Discovery was clear for the maneuver and on track to dock today.

?Greatnews!?Fincke said. ?We?re looking forward to it.?

Discovery is in the midst of a13-day mission to deliver a $298 million pair of U.S.-built solar arrays andJapanese astronaut Koichi Wakata to the station. Wakata will replace NASAastronaut Sandra Magnus as a station flight engineer.

Today is Flight Day 3 of Discovery's13-day mission to the International Space Station.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s docking day for Discovery?s crew.

?- Tariq Malik


NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

Shuttle Crew Prepares for ISS Docking
17 March 2009 12:20 p.m. EDT

The space shuttle Discovery is closingin on the International Space Station with commander Lee Archambault andpilot Tony Antonelli flying a series of maneuvers to hone the spacecraft?sorbital approach.

Discovery will fire its twin OrbitalManeuvering System engines at 2:34 p.m. EDT (1834 GMT) to begin finalrendezvous operations in maneuver called the Terminal Initiation (TI) burn.

The shuttle is on track to docktoday at about 5:13 p.m. EDT (2113 GMT).

Today is Flight Day 3 of Discovery's13-day mission to the International Space Station.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s docking day for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Shuttle Astronauts Rise for Docking Day
17 March 2009 9:50 a.m. EDT

Astronauts aboard the shuttleDiscovery are awake and getting to work to prepare for today?s5:13 p.m. EDT (2113 GMT) docking at the International Space Station. Likeon Earth, today is St. Patrick?s Day in space.

NASA roused the crew at 9:43 a.m.EDT (1343 GMT) with the song ?Radio Exercise,? a Japanese tune performed by theTokyo Broadcast Children?s Choir for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who isspending his last day as a Discovery astronaut before joining the station crewtonight.

?Erin go braugh,Discovery, and happy St. Patrick?s Day,? NASA astronaut Janice Voss radioed upfrom Mission Control.

?It?s another wonderful morning inorbit,? Wakata said. ?I?m looking forward to going into our new base in spacelater today.?

Today is Flight Day 3 of Discovery's13-day mission to the International Space Station.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s docking day for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Shuttle Heat Shield Survey Complete
16 March 2009 9:37 p.m. EDT

The seven astronauts aboard NASA?sshuttle Discovery have completedtoday?s inspection of the spacecraft?s vital heat shield on its wing andnoses. The survey took about six hours using Discovery?s sensor-tippedextension of the spacecraft?s robotic arm.

An early look has found Discovery?sheat shield to be in good shape, but engineers will also use data and photosfrom two subsequent scans to be sure, mission managers said. The shuttle is ontrack to dock at theInternational Space Station on Tuesday at 5:13 p.m. EDT (2113 GMT).

Todayis Flight Day 2 of Discovery?s 13-day mission to the International SpaceStation. Shuttle heat shield inspections are planned throughoutthe day.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s orbital work for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Astronauts Inspect Shuttle?s Left Wing
16 March 2009 7:34 p.m. EDT

Astronauts aboard the space shuttleDiscovery are on the final leg today?sinspection of heat-resistant panels on the spacecraft?s nose cap and wingedges.

They areusing laser and camera sensors at the tip of a 50-foot (15-meter) extension ofDiscovery?s robotic arm to scan the shuttle?s port wing for damageto ensure it healthy for re-entry later in the mission. They have alreadycompleted scans of Discovery?s starboard wing and nose cap.

Meanwhile, NASA mission managers havecleared concerns over a piece of space debris that will fly past the spacestation on early Tuesday. It will not fly closeenough to force the station to fire its rocket engines and move out of the way.

Todayis Flight Day 2 of Discovery?s 13-day mission to the International SpaceStation. Shuttle heat shield inspections are planned throughoutthe day.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s orbital work for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Astronauts to Scan Shuttle Nose for Dings
16 March 2009 4:43 p.m. EDT

Astronauts aboard the space shuttleDiscovery are one-third of the way through today?splanned inspection of heat-resistant panels on the spacecraft?s nose cap and wing edges.

Clickhere for avideo of Discovery?s Sunday evening launch.

Clickhere to watchNASA's STS-119 press briefing at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT).

They have completed scanning theshuttle?s starboard wing and are now turning their attention to Discovery?snose cap. They are using laser and camera sensors at the tip of a 50-foot(15-meter) extension of Discovery?s robotic arm and are expectedto spend about an hour scanning the shuttle?s nose before moving on to thespacecraft?s port wing.

Meanwhile, NASA mission managers arekeeping track of apiece of space debris that will buzz by the space station on early Tuesday.

Todayis Flight Day 2 of Discovery?s 13-day mission to the International SpaceStation. Shuttle heat shield inspections are planned throughoutthe day.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s orbital work for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Discovery Heat Shield Scan Under Way
16 March 2009 2:54 p.m. EDT

Astronauts aboard the space shuttleDiscovery have begun today?splanned inspection of heat-resistant panels on the spacecraft?s nose capand wing edges to scan for any signs of damage.

First up are the reinforced carbon carbonpanels on Discovery?s starboard wing leading edge. The survey will take aboutan hour and 45 minutes before the shuttle crew switches to spacecraft?s nosecap, and later the port wing. They are using laser and camera sensors at thetip of a 50-foot (15-meter) extension of Discovery?s robotic arm.

Meanwhile, NASA mission managers arekeeping track of apiece of space debris that will buzz by the space station on early Tuesday.

Todayis Flight Day 2 of Discovery?s 13-day mission to the International SpaceStation. Shuttle heat shield inspections are planned throughoutthe day.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s orbital work for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Astronauts Prepare to Inspect Discovery
16 March 2009 1:30 p.m. EDT

Astronauts aboard the space shuttleDiscovery are preparing to begin today?splanned inspection of heat-resistant panels on the spacecraft?s nose capand wing edges.

The inspection is due to beginaround 2:28 p.m. EDT (1828 GMT) using laser and camera sensors at the tip of a50-foot (15-meter) extension of Discovery?s robotic arm.

Shuttlepilot Tony Antonelliwill oversee the inspection with help from Discovery commander Lee Archambaultand mission specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips and KoichiWakata.

Meanwhile, NASA mission managers arekeeping track of apiece of space debris that will buzz by the space station on early Tuesday.

Todayis Flight Day 2 of Discovery?s 13-day mission to the International SpaceStation. Shuttle heat shield inspections are planned throughoutthe day.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s orbital work for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Astronauts Plan for Space Debris Near Station
16 March 2009 12:45 p.m. EDT

NASA engineers are keeping closetabs on a piece of Soviet-era spacetrash to decide whether to move the International Space Station before thearrival of the shuttle Discovery on Tuesday.

Discovery launched toward thestation with seven astronauts aboard on late Sunday, and is due to dock at theorbiting lab tomorrow at 5:13 p.m. EDT (2113 GMT). But the offending piece ofspace debris, a remnant from the Soviet-era navigation satellite Cosmos 1275,will zip close by the station before the shuttle arrives.

?We haven?t gotten data in ouroffice yet on how big it is,? said NASA spokesperson Kylie Clem at the JohnsonSpace Center in Houston.

Clem told SPACE.com that flight controllers know the debris is expected tomake its closest pass by the space station at 3:14 a.m. EDT (0714 GMT).

If NASA engineers decide they needto move the space station to dodge the space junk, they would fire the rocketengines on the outpost?s Russian-built Zvezda service module at about 9:54 p.m.EDT (0154 March 17 GMT) for a short maneuver.

?We don?t necessarily need to do theburn until we get more data,? stationcommander Michael Fincke radioed down to Mission Control.

Todayis Flight Day 2 of Discovery?s 13-day mission to the International SpaceStation. Shuttle heat shield inspections are planned throughoutthe day.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s orbital work for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Shuttle Astronauts Begin 1st Full Day in Space
16 March 2009 10:36 a.m. EDT

Astronautsaboard NASA?s space shuttle Discovery have begun their first full day in spaceafter theirSunday evening launch, a day expected to be filledwith heat shield inspections.

Flightcontrollers roused the crew at about 10:18 a.m. EDT (1418 GMT) with the song?Free Bird? performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd, atune chosen for shuttlepilot Dominic ?Tony? Antonelli,who is making his first spaceflight.

?Goodmorning Discovery, and especially to Tony,? Mission Control radioed the crewfrom NASA?s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

?Goodmorning Houston, thanks for that great song,? Antonelli called back.

Todayis Flight Day 2 of Discovery?s 13-day mission to the International SpaceStation.

Clickhere for a lookat today?s orbital work for Discovery?s crew.

NASA isbroadcasting Discovery?sSTS-119 mission to the International Space Station
on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upperleft of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Astronauts Open Shuttle Payload Bay
15 March 2009 9:29 p.m. EDT

Astronautsaboard the space shuttle Discovery have opened the orbiter?s shell-like payloadbay doors as they continue to settle into orbital operations after aspectacular sunsetlaunch earlier tonight.

Clickhere for a view of Discovery?s launch at 7:43 p.m. EDT (2343 GMT). Anearlier image canbe seen here.

Theastronauts opened Discovery?s payload bay at about 9:08 p.m. EDT (0109 March 16GMT). The shuttle?s payload bay doors act as radiators during flight to shedexcess heat from the spacecraft. They are due to dock at the InternationalSpace Station on Tuesday at 5:18 p.m. EDT (2118 GMT).

Clickhere forSPACE.com?s launch wrap up of today?s evening shuttle liftoff.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Discovery Astronauts Discard Shuttle Fuel Tank
15 March 2009 7:53 p.m. EDT

TheSTS-119 astronauts aboard the space shuttle Discovery have discarded the15-story external tank that fed the orbiter?s 8 1/2-minute launch into space.  

With the tank jettisoned,Discovery is now in orbit. A flash camera will photograph the tank?s departureto record any foam insulation loss.

Analysts at MissionControl in Houston?s Johnson Space Center will search for any signs of foam lossduring launch, and its potential as a debris hazard to Discovery?s heat shield.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Discovery?s EnginesShut Down as Planned
15 March 2009 7:52 p.m. EDT

The five engines boostingDiscovery and its external tank towards orbit have shut down as planned about 81/2 minutes into flight.  

The milestone, known asMain Engine Cut Off (MECO) The spacecraft is flying towards its intended orbit,with the next major task aimed at discarding the shuttle?s external tank. 

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International Space Station on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

Solid Rocket BoostersSeparate
15 March 2009 7:47 p.m. EDT

The twin solid rocketboosters assisting Discovery?s launch into space have separated as planned fromthe shuttle?s external tank.  

The reusable boostersseparate about two minutes and five seconds after liftoff and fall back towardthe Atlantic Ocean, where they will landunder parachutes and be retrieved by recovery ships. They are equipped withcameras to record the performance of Discovery?s external tank and any foamloss seen during today?s ascent.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

- Tariq Malik

LIFTOFF! ShuttleDiscovery Launches Spaceward
15 March 2009 7:44 p.m. EDT

The space shuttleDiscovery has cleared the launch tower and gaining altitude after lifting offat about 7:43 p.m. EDT (2343 GMT).

Riding spaceward aboardDiscovery are STS-119 commander Lee Archaumbault, shuttle pilot TonyAntonelli,mission specialists Joseph Acaba, Steve Swanson, RichardArnold II, John Phillips and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata. It should takediscovery about 8 1/2 minutes to ferry its seven-astronaut crew into orbit.

NASA is broadcasting Discovery?s STS-119 mission to the International SpaceStation on NASA TV. Click herefor SPACE.com'sNASA TV feed or follow the NASA TV link at the upper left of this page.

 - Tariq Malik

 

ShuttleDiscovery 'Go for Launch'
15 March 2009 7:34 p.m. EDT

CAPECANAVERAL, Fla. ? Shuttle Discovery has been cleared for launch from KennedySpace Center's pad 39-A on its 36th mission - the 125th space shuttle flightand the 28th mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Thecountdown has just picked up following the planned T-9 minute hold as final launchpreparations are rushed to completion.

Discovery'spreferred launch time is 7:43:44 p.m. EDT (2343:44 GMT) and today's launchwindow will close at 7:48:44 p.m. EDT (2348:44 GMT).

At thetime of launch, the ISS will be orbiting about 224 miles above the southernIndian Ocean.

Weatherat the launch site is observed 'Go' on all fronts with no constraints tolaunch. Conditions at both of the Trans-Oceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites inSpain remain favorable.

Themission management team has been polled and all have reported 'Go for launch.'The seven STS-119 astronauts, led by mission commander Lee Archambault andpilot Tony Antonelli,are strapped into their seats, running through their pre-launch checklists and areclosely monitoring spacecraft systems for their ascent to orbit.

Notechnical or vehicle issues are being worked at this time, with very littlechatter on the internal communication loops.

TheEastern Range is reporting 'Clear for launch.' The two Solid Rocket Boosterrecovery ships are on-station, northeast of Cape Canaveral and about 8 milesaway from the actual impact point of the spent boosters.

Overthe next nine minutes, the Orbiter's access arm will be retracted, thehydraulic power system (APU) started, the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tankspressurized, Discovery's internal flight computers will take control of thecountdown and a booster steering test will be conducted. The three spaceshuttle main engines will ignite at T-minus 6.6 seconds and the twin solidrockets boosters will light at T-minus zero resulting in liftoff.

Allspacecraft systems are reported 'Go'. 9 minutes to launch.

--Roger Guillemette

NASA is broadcastingDiscovery?s STS-119 mission live on NASA TV during launch and the flight. Youare invited to follow the mission using SPACE.com?s NASA TV feed, which isavailable by clicking here or using the button atthe left.

?Shuttle Discovery Readied for Launch
15 March 2009 7:15 p.m. EDT

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. ? Shuttle Discovery's hatch hasbeen closed and latched for flight, the seven STS-119 astronauts are strappedinto their seats and final preparations are progressing smoothly for this evening'ssunset launch attempt from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39-A.

The countdown clock is currently halted at theT-minus 9-minute mark ? a scheduled built-in hold lasting approx. 45 minutesand 44 seconds.

Weather conditions along Florida's Space Coast areperfect and as the countdown enters its final 30 minutes, the launch team isnot currently working any technical issues ? with the non-critical exception ofa bat that has attached itself to the External Tank. Both Trans-Oceanic AbortLanding (TAL) sites in Spain are both observed and forecast 'Green' or 'Go' tosupport a launch attempt this evening.

Discovery'spreferred launch time has been moved up by two seconds to 7:43:44 p.m. EDT(2343:44 GMT), based upon the most recent position of the International SpaceStation; tonight's launch window will close at 7:48:44 p.m. EDT (2348:44 GMT).

U.S. Air Force Colonel Lee Archambault is commanderof STS-119, and U.S. Navy Commander Tony Antonelli is the pilot. The missionspecialists for the flight are NASA astronauts Joseph Acaba, JohnPhillips, Steve Swanson and Richard Arnold. Discovery will also deliver a newflight engineer, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, tojoin the ISS Expedition 18/19 crew, and return current ISS flight engineerSandra Magnus to Earth.

The astronauts are running through their pre-launchchecklists and are closely monitoring their spacecraft systems in preparationfor their ascent to orbit. The close-out crew has finished breaking down the'White Room' surrounding the spacecraft hatch and departed the launch pad.

Discovery's primary objective to deliver the finalset of solar array wings and truss element that are needed to complete theInternational Space Station?s electricity-generating system.

?--Roger Guillemette

NASA is broadcastingDiscovery?s STS-119 mission live on NASA TV during launch and the flight. Youare invited to follow the mission using SPACE.com?s NASA TV feed, which isavailable by clicking here or using the button atthe left.

DiscoveryCountdown Proceeding Smoothly
15 March 2009 6:40 p.m. EDT

The countdown is proceeding smoothly for thisevening's launch attempt of shuttle Discovery on a mission to theInternational Space Station (ISS). Weather conditions along Florida's SpaceCoast are perfect and the launch team is not currently working any technicalissues as the countdown enters its final hour.

Discovery's preferred launch time is 7:43:46 p.m.EDT (2343:46 GMT), near the midpoint of a 10-minute launch window.

Discovery's hatch has been closed and latched forflight, the sevenSTS-119 astronauts are strapped into their seats and final preparations areprogressing for this evening's launch attempt from Kennedy Space Center's Pad39A. The countdown clock is about to resume following the planned T-minus20-minute hold and will tick down to T-minus 9-minute hold - a planned,built-in hold to allow the launch team to catch up on any final preparations.

A relatively sparse number of dignitaries are inattendance at the space center's VIP viewing sites for this evening's launchattempt, including Selective Service Director Bill Chatfield, U.S. Senator (andformer space shuttle traveler) Bill Nelson and several members of Congress.<

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