Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Discovery go for launch, again!

Despite safety fears, and after two postponed launches, the space shuttle Discovery is now set for launch from Kennedy Space Centre at 14:38 EDT (18:38 GMT, 19:38 BST) on Tuesday the 4th of July.

CREDIT: NASA
The space shuttle Discovery is revealed after retraction of the rotating service structure at Launch Pad 39B during the built-in hold at T-11 hours. On the 12-day STS-121 mission, the seven-member crew is scheduled to test new equipment and procedures to improve shuttle safety, as well as deliver supplies and make repairs to the International Space Station.

Update: A successful lift-off for Discovery at 14:38 EDT (18:38 GMT) on the 4th of July. Despite the safety fears surrounding the mission, during the press conference following the launch it was reported that the external tank's performance was greatly improved.

CREDIT: NASA
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Lift-off for the space shuttle Discovery (STS-121).

While onboard cameras captured images showing some small pieces of the external tank breaking off during the launch, NASA currently sees no reason to be concerned about the integrity of the orbiter. However like the previous flight in July last year, the crew will take a closer look at Discovery using the orbiter boom sensor system, as well a performing slow roll of the craft that will allow further photography from the International Space Station.