Headlines > News > Seven Astronauts Set to Launch on Voyage of Discovery

Seven Astronauts Set to Launch on Voyage of Discovery

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Thu Dec 7, 2006 6:05 pm
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Launch day has dawned at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Space Shuttle Discovery and a crew of seven astronauts are undergoing final preparations for the STS-116 mission to the International Space Station.

All systems onboard the space shuttle are functioning normally this morning, but there’s a 60 percent chance of weather prohibiting a liftoff at 9:35 p.m. EST. A cold front moving through the area is expected to bring with it a lingering blanket of clouds and isolated light rain. The team will press on with the countdown for now, in case the weather cooperates after all.

Starting at 11:43 a.m., Discovery’s orange external tank will be loaded with 500,000 gallons of liquid oxygen and hydrogen. This process, called “tanking,” takes about three hours to complete. The propellant levels in the tank will be continuously “topped off” until the final minutes of the countdown.

Across the space center, in the Operations and Checkout Building’s crew quarters, the astronauts are scheduled to wake up just as tanking is getting under way. After breakfast, a weather briefing and suiting up, they’ll board the silver Astrovan and leave for the launch pad amid the cheers of Kennedy employees.

The STS-116 mission is the 33rd for Discovery and the 117th space shuttle flight. During the 12-day mission, the crew will continue construction on the International Space Station, rewiring the orbiting laboratory and adding a segment to its integrated truss structure.

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