Shuttle Countdown Begins, Fog Could Delay Monday’s Launch

The countdown is under for the next launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. NASA says, so far, there’s been no mechanical or other technical issue to get in the way of Monday morning’s scheduled liftoff from Cape Canaveral. But the weather ‘could’ force another brief delay. David Pitman has more.

This is one of the last four scheduled shuttle missions, before the shuttle program is retired.  NASA Test Director Steve Payne says these final trips are crucial to the completion of the International Space Station.

“This one carries a lot of the experiment racks that we have all this laboratory space awaiting for these racks, so we’re gonna be taking them up.  And a lot of heavy-lift has to be carried up on shuttles, so we’re going to be taking advantage of all that.”

Payload Manager Joe Delai says, along with the science racks, Discovery will also deliver more sleeping quarters and new exercise equipment for the ISS crew.

“And of course, this will be used for research on the muscular-skeletal system to better understand the effects of micro-gravity on the muscular system.”

Delai says the information gleaned from that research could one day lead to more effective treatments for osteoporosis.  Discovery is set to liftoff 5:21, central time, Monday morning. NASA forecasters say there’s about a 20 percent chance that fog could postpone the launch to Tuesday or Wednesday.   This mission is already running about two-and-a-half weeks behind schedule because of last month’s cold snap in central Florida.

STS-131 Official Crew Photo

Attired in training versions of their shuttle launch and entry suits, these seven astronauts take a break from training to pose for the STS-131 crew portrait. Seated are NASA astronauts Alan Poindexter (right), commander; and James P. Dutton Jr., pilot. Pictured from the left (standing) are NASA astronauts Rick Mastracchio, Stephanie Wilson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki and NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson, all mission specialists. (NASA image).

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David Pitman

David Pitman

Host, Morning Edition

Hi there. I’m glad you found me. Let me take a moment to answer some of the questions you might have about me and my job. I have worked as Morning Edition Host and reporter at News 88.7 since August of 2009. Previously, I hosted Morning Edition at WMFE in...

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