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STS-124: LIFTOFF!

"...and liftoff of Shuttle Discovery! Gambatte kudasai -- best of luck to the International Space Station's newest laboratory!"

"...Houston now controlling the flight of Discovery, a man-made rising sun on behalf of Japan...

...Four-and-half million pounds of hardware and humans taking aim on the International Space Station..."

NASA reports:

LIFTOFF!

Space shuttle Discovery launches
Image above: STS-124 begins as space shuttle Discovery ignites its three main engines and two solid rocket boosters before leaping off the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA TV

May 31 5:02 p.m. EDT
Space shuttle Discovery is on its way into space on the power of its two solid rocket boosters and three main engines! The launch traced a fiery arc across the sky of Florida's East Coast as the shuttle races to catch up to the International Space Station.

It will take Discovery 8 1/2 minutes to reach its orbital speed of about 17,500 mph.

Preflight pics are up at the JSC Gallery. More preflight pics and video at KSC. Discussion here. Media Resources here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-124: Launch Day

Discovery is fueling up for this afternoon's liftoff. Weather is looking goodNASA reports:

Fueling Goes Smoothly for Discovery

The STS-124 Crew. NASA PHOTO NO: KSC-08PD-1455 


May 31
Fuel loading of shuttle Discovery's external fuel tank is continuing normally. As the tank fills, the engine cutoff sensors indicated a "wet" reading at 8:28 a.m. EDT. Fuel loading is now in the fast fill stage.

There are four engine cutoff, or ECO, sensors inside the liquid hydrogen section of the tank. The sensors are part of several systems that protect the shuttle's main engines by triggering them to shut down if fuel runs unexpectedly low. The tank will be completely filled at about 10:38 a.m. The countdown will then enter a T-3 hour hold for 2.5 hours.

The weather is looking promising for launch day, according to Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters. Isolated coastal showers may be in the area during the morning hours, but a sea breeze will develop in the afternoon, clearing the coast and causing any showers to move inland. There is an 80 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time.

This mission will carry the largest payload so far to the station and includes three spacewalks. It is the second of three missions that will launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. The crew will install Kibo's large Japanese Pressurized Module and Kibo's robotic arm system. Discovery also will deliver new station crew member Greg Chamitoff and bring back Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who will end a three-month stay aboard the outpost.

STS-124 Mission Information
› STS-124 Mission Summary (539 Kb PDF)
› STS-124 Press Kit (7 Mb PDF)
› Meet the Crew

Preflight pics are up at the JSC Gallery and FlaToday. More preflight pics and video at KSC. Discussion here. Media Resources here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

STS-124: Launch Prep For Saturday

Shuttle Discovery is set to launch Saturday afternoon on mission STS-124, a flight to the International Space Station. The crew of 7 will be delivering the second piece of Japan's Kibo module to the Station, as well as one other vital piece of equipment. Oh, and make that crew count seven-and-a-half. NASA reports:

All Eyes on Discovery

Takeoff of the shuttle training aircraft. NASA PHOTO NO: KSC-08PD-1470 Image: One of the shuttle training aircraft, or STA, takes off from the runway at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. Handling the controls is the commander of the STS-124 mission, Mark Kelly. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
› View High-res Image

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May 30
At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians are putting the finishing touches on space shuttle Discovery one day before its scheduled liftoff on mission STS-124. Launch is set for May 31 at 5:02 p.m. EDT.

"After months of hard work and preparation, Discovery and its crew are ready to fly," said NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding during a morning briefing on Discovery's countdown status. "All of our systems are in great shape, we're tracking no issues, and we're right on schedule for tomorrow's launch."

The weather is looking promising for launch day, according to Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters. Isolated coastal showers may be in the area during the morning hours, but a sea breeze will develop in the afternoon, clearing the coast and causing any showers to move inland. There is an 80 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time.

This mission will carry the largest payload so far to the station and includes three spacewalks. It is the second of three missions that will launch components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. The crew will install Kibo's large Japanese Pressurized Module and Kibo's robotic arm system. Discovery also will deliver new station crew member Greg Chamitoff and bring back Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman, who will end a three-month stay aboard the outpost.

STS-124 Mission Information
› STS-124 Mission Summary (539 Kb PDF)
› STS-124 Press Kit (7 Mb PDF)
› Meet the Crew

Preflight pics are up at the JSC Gallery. More preflight pics and video at KSC. Discussion here. Media Resources here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

Phoenix: First Images

The first images from the icy North Pole of Mars have begun streaming back to Earth from the Phoenix Lander.  NASA reports:

Phoenix Raw Image

landscape of mars
raw images from Mars
This is a raw, or unprocessed, image taken by the Phoenix lander on Mars, May 25, 2008. This is a screen grab taken from NASA TV.

Phoenix Lands at Martian Arctic Site
NASA's Phoenix spacecraft landed in the northern polar region of Mars today to begin three months of examining a site chosen for its likelihood of having frozen water within reach of the lander's robotic arm.
›  Post-mission briefing begins: 12 a.m. May 26 p.m. Eastern, NASA TV on the Web

Video report here. Discussion here and here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

The Phoenix Has Landed!

The Phoenix lander has touched down on the surface of Mars! NASA reports:

Mars Phoenix Lander Update -- Touchdown

UofAz: Phoenix Post-Landing, before deploying solar panels.
Above, an artist concept of the Phoenix lander on Mars.

A signal has been detected from Phoenix indicating that the lander is on the surface of Mars.

Pre-landing release: May 25, 3:15 p.m.
›  Landing coverage begins: 6:30 p.m. Eastern, NASA TV on the Web

On the Phoenix Blog: Landing Day
05.25.08 -- With a day left before entry, descent, and landing, Phoenix is in good health, and today teams are focusing on whether we need a final trajectory correction maneuver tonight.
Go to blog, post your comments

Phoenix on NASA TV
May 25, NASA TV coverage begins 6:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m. Pacific)
May 25, First possible landing confirmation 7:53 p.m. (4:53 p.m. Pacific)
May 26, Post-landing briefing, 12 a.m.
›  NASA TV on the Web
›  Schedule of landing events
›  Landing Press Kit (3Mb)

Video report here. Discussion here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV. More info at JPL and the University of Arizona.

NASA Moves To Save Computers From Swarming Ants

A flood of voracious ants is heading straight for Houston, taking out computers, radios and even vehicles in their path. 

http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/051508-nasa-moves-to-save-computers.html

Internal NASA Documents Give Clues to Scary Soyuz Return Flight

Internal NASA Documents Give Clues to Scary Soyuz Return Flight
By James Oberg , First Published May 2008

Engineers are attempting to reconstruct the 19 April Soyuz descent from the ISS