Discovery will do it’s last lift off, hopefully, in just under 12 hours time. This twenty six year old shuttle, will go on it’s last mission (STS-133) today for eleven days. After this shuttle has returned, there are another two shuttles that go into orbit, before the Space Shuttle retires.
This is a high risk mission. There have already been two delays, and there is most likely going to be a third. The first delay was due to a leak, the second to electrical problems in the cockpit and the third might be due to bad weather. The rocket will not be fuelled unless the weather is perfect. This means a cool platform, no lightening, and no rain, and no clouds. There is only a 20% chance, that the weather will be suitable.
There are six crew members that will board the shuttle. Their mission is to transport the Permanent Multipurpose Module (Leonardo) and the third of four ExPRESS Logistics Carriers to the International Space Station. Another fun component in the shuttle will be Robonaut2, a robot set to help work on the International Space Station.
This twelve day voyage, will not only mark Discovery’s 39th flight, and the Space Shuttle programme’s 133rd flight. But it will be the third last voyage, of one of man’s greatest inventions. The Space Shuttle.
Naturally, due to previous disasters such as Challenger and Columbia, the precautions must be carefully dealt with. Such amazing science, can turn into disaster, within seconds. And NASA has yet to develope an ejection part of the shuttle. By now, I doubt they will.
I look forward to seeing what space flight developes in the future, and possibly flying beyond Earth will be more affordable, than $20 million per person.