Discovery space shuttle finally lifts off

Credit: Marta Lavandier/Associated Press
Credit: Marta Lavandier/Associated Press Source: The New York Times

After three launch delays, the Discovery space shuttle finally blasted off to space late Friday for a 13-day installation and delivery mission.

The space shuttle was originally scheduled for launch early Tuesday but bad weather and a fuel valve which failed to close caused a four-day delay.

To catch up with the International Space Station, the shuttle’s commander Col. Frederick W. Sturckow of the Marines and the shuttle’s pilot, Kevin A. Ford, a retired Air Force colonel, plan to carry out a series of rocket firings. Discovery is expected to dock at the space station at around 9 p.m. Sunday.

The shuttle’s mission includes installing a new 1,800-pound ammonia coolant system tank and delivering two research rackes, a freezer for experiment samples, a new carbon dioxide removal system, crew sleep station and uhm, a new treadmill. 😉

Three spacewalks are also scheduled during Discovery’s stay in the station.

A Discovery crew, Nicole P. Stott, will be replacing Col. Timothy L. Kopra who came to the station aboard Endeavour. She will be joining the space station crew as a flight engineer.

The shuttle is scheduled to undock on September 8 and is expected to land at the Kennedy Space Center two days later.