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Sunday, 28 March 2010 00:06

NASA STS-131 given Go to Launch


NASA managers have given space shuttle Discovery a 'GO' to launch on April 5, 2010, for its STS-131 mission to the International Space Station.



A Flight Readiness Review (FRR) meeting by NASA and contractor managers and engineers on Friday, March 26, 2010, has come to the conclusion that the space shuttle Discovery does not have any 'unresolved issues' that would prevent it and its crew from flying a 'safe and successful mission.'

According to a news brief from the NASA News Service (March 26, 2010), Bill Gerstenmaier, the NASA associate administrator for Space Operations, stated briefly but distinctly, "We are ready to fly."

The STS-131 mission is scheduled to liftoff from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 6:21 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Monday, April 5, 2010.

They are scheduled to arrive at the ISS early on Wednesday, April 7th.

Information about the STS-131 mission is found at NASA's webpage 'STS-131 Mission Information.'

The crew of STS-131 include commander Alan Poindexter, pilot Jim Dutton, and mission specialists Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson (all of NASA), and Naoko Yamazaki (of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [JAXA]).

Page two talks about two Firsts that will occur during the STS-131 mission.



Two first-time events (or Firsts) are occurring during the STS-131 mission. First, three female members onboard Discovery and one female member of the ISS team will make for the first time that four women have been in space at one time.

Second, with one Japanese (JAXA) astronaut participating with the STS-131 mission, and one JAXA astronaut already onboard the Space Station, will mark the first time two JAXA astronauts have been in space at the same time.

The Discovery crew will deliver a science-filled Multi-Purpose Logistics module (called Leonardo, which is filled with about eight tons of science equipment and cargo) to the Space Station.

Three spacewalks are also scheduled for the mission by NASA mission specialists Mastracchio and Anderson.

The two spacewalkers will replace an ammonia tank assembly, retrieve a Japanese experiment from the JAXA Kibo Laboratory outside the Station, and replace a rate-gyroscope assembly from the center segment of the Station's truss.

The astronauts will also unpack such things as a Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer, new crew quarters rack, Muscle Atrophy Resistive Exercise System, Window Observational Research Facility, and EXPRESS rack 7.

Page three concludes with information on how to access the STS-131 press kit.


Additional information about the mission activities is found on the pdf file 'Space Shuttle Mission: STS-131 Experiment Express.'

The press package begins with: "As the last round-trip for the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, Discovery's 13-day mission will provide the International Space Station with not only some 8 tons of
science equipment and cargo, but also one last opportunity to send a large load of cargo back
to the ground."

It continues with: "Leonardo serves as basically a moving van for the space station, allowing the shuttle to, first of all, deliver shipments of equipment and supplies larger than any other vehicle could
accommodate, and, second, to return science experiments, unneeded hardware and trash to
the ground - all other cargo transfer vehicles burn up in the Earth's atmosphere."

"And although Leonardo will return to the station once more on the last space shuttle mission
later this year, this is scheduled to be its last round trip - Leonardo will remain permanently
at the station after STS-133. So while it will deliver one more batch of goods, the cargo
returning on STS-131 will be the last that it brings home."


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