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The Mission




Orbiter: Discovery
Mission: STS-133
Payload: Leonardo
Launch: Feb. 24, 2011
Time: 4:53 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: March 9 @
11:57 a.m. EST
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility

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Shuttle Discovery cleared for blastoff next Monday
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: October 25, 2010


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After reviewing normal processing and weekend work to fix a small fuel leak, NASA managers Monday cleared the shuttle Discovery for an election-eve launch Nov. 1 to begin a space station resupply mission, the orbiter's 39th and final flight.


Credit: NASA TV
 
Testing indicates new seals in a suspect flange are properly seated and holding pressure with no signs of additional seepage. Assuming no other problems develop, engineers believe they will be ready to start Discovery's countdown at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT) Friday, setting up a launch attempt at 4:40:26 p.m. EDT (2040:26 GMT) Monday.

"We're in great shape out at the pad," Launch Director Michael Leinbach told reporters. "We've used up our four days of contingency for that leak repair, but we're right on schedule now. ... I see no reason right now at all that we can't get into the launch countdown per plan on Friday afternoon."

Discovery's all-veteran crew -- commander Steven Lindsey, pilot Eric Boe, Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt and spacewalkers Timothy Kopra and Alvin Drew -- plans to fly to the Kennedy Space Center from Houston on Thursday to prepare for flight.

The primary goals of the 133rd shuttle mission are to deliver and install a final U.S. pressurized module loaded with equipment and supplies, to mount a spare radiator panel on the station's power truss, to deliver an experimental robot and to stage two spacewalks to carry out a variety of assembly and maintenance tasks.

The mission comes just shy of the 12th anniversary of the start of station construction Nov. 20, 1998, and the 10th anniversary of the first crew's arrival on Nov. 2, 2000. On Monday, yet another milestone was achieved as the international lab complex, continuously manned for 3,644 days, eclipsed the previous record set by the Russian Mir space station.

Assuming an on-time launch, Lindsey plans to guide Discovery to its 13th and final ISS docking around 1:18 p.m. (1718 GMT) Nov. 3. The first spacewalk will get underway at 10:35 a.m. (1435 GMT) on Nov. 5 and the permanent multi-purpose module, or PMM, will be attached to the central Unity module's Earth-facing port the next day.

"It's pretty exciting that Discovery is going to take up the last major United States module to the station,' shuttle Program Manager John Shannon said last week. "We're making good on our promise that we would get the space station in the absolute best possible config we could with spares and equipment before we retire the space shuttle."

Kopra and Drew plan a second spacewalk on Nov. 7. If all goes well, Discovery will undock from the station around 5:40 a.m. (1040 GMT) on Nov. 10, setting up a landing back at the Kennedy Space Center around 10:38 a.m. (1538 GMT) on Nov. 12.

Senior NASA managers attended an all-day executive-level flight readiness review Monday at the Kennedy Space Center and formally cleared Discovery for launch Nov. 1. The window extends through Nov. 7. The next shuttle launch window opens Dec. 1.

Last week, NASA managers ordered the replacement of two internal seals in a fuel-line flange in the plumbing of Discovery's orbital maneuvering system rocket pods that had shown signs of a small leak of toxic monomethyl hydrazine rocket fuel.

The leak appeared to stop during torque checks of the six bolts holding the flange together, but because of the volatile nature of the fuel, shuttle integration manager Mike Moses ordered the seals replaced to return the flange to a known pristine state.

Working through the weekend, engineers drained propellants from the OMS pod system, vacuum-dried the lines, took the flange apart and replaced the two internal seals. After reassembling the flange, the OMS pod propellant tanks were reloaded Sunday. Subsequent tests showed the flange was tight with no signs of any seepage.

"It was a very, very tough job," Leinbach said of the repair work. "Our technicians really came through with flying colors, It was an outstanding job."

As for what caused the leak in the first place, there were no obvious signs of damage to the seals or the flange mating surfaces. Leinbach said engineers suspect "transient contamination" might be the culprit.

There were no other issues of any significance. Shuttle integration manager Mike Moses said engineers discussed erosion damage seen in the nozzle of a five-segment booster test fired in Utah in late August. But the shuttle boosters use four segments and a different nozzle design. No such damage has ever been seen in a shuttle booster and NASA managers cleared Discovery's twin SRBs for launch.

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW SETS LAUNCH DATE PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-133 MISSION OVERVIEW PRESENTATIONS PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: IN-DEPTH BACKGROUND ON ROBONAUT 2 HUMANOID PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: PAYLOAD BAY DOORS CLOSED FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW LEAVES KSC FOR TRIP TO HOUSTON PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS INSPECT THE PAYLOAD BAY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE EVACUATION PRACTICE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS EGRESS SHUTTLE AS SEEN LIVE PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS BOARD DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SUN RISES ON LAUNCH PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH DAY REHEARSAL BEGINS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: COMMEMORATIVE WALL SIGNING IN VAB PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW BRIEFED ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: IN SHUTTLE TRAINING AIRCRAFT'S COCKPIT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TEST-DRIVING AN EMERGENCY ARMORED TANK PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH STEVE LINDSEY PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH ERIC BOE PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH AL DREW PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH TIM KOPRA PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH MIKE BARRATT PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH NICOLE STOTT PLAY

VIDEO: PAYLOADS INSTALLED INTO DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MISSION PAYLOADS ARRIVE AT LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CANISTER HAULING PAYLOADS TURNED UPRIGHT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MODULE HOISTED INTO SHIPPING CANISTER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: WEIGHING NEW SPACE STATION MODULE PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: GANTRY PLACED AROUND DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE ATLANTIS REACHES PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CROWDS WATCH DISCOVERY'S FINAL ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: SHUTTLE HOISTED FOR ATTACHMENT TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CRANE ROTATES THE ORBITER VERTICALLY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY DEPARTS ITS HANGAR PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE SHOWS DISCOVERY ASCENDING IN VAB PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE SHOWS THE MOVE TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY

VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S MAIDEN FLIGHT: FIRST TRIP TO VAB PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S MAIDEN FLIGHT: ROLLOUT TO PAD 39A PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S MAIDEN FLIGHT: TEST-FIRING ENGINES PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S MAIDEN FLIGHT: ASSORTED VIEWS OF FRF PLAY

VIDEO: THE HISTORY OF SHUTTLE DISCOVERY PLAY
VIDEO: THE HISTORY OF SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR PLAY
VIDEO: THE HISTORY OF SHUTTLE ATLANTIS PLAY

VIDEO: INSPECTION OF THE MISSION PAYLOADS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ROBONAUT ARRIVES AT KENNEDY SPACE CENTER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SPACE STATION'S SPARE THERMAL RADIATOR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: BLANKETING LEONARDO WITH INSULATION PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: RACK INSERTED INTO LEONARDO FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LEONARDO RETURNS FROM ITS PREVIOUS FLIGHT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: STATION'S SPARE PARTS DEPOT ARRIVES PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: ORBITER'S PAYLOAD BAY CLOSED FOR ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS VISIT THEIR SPACECRAFT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW INSPECTS LEONARDO MODULE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY RECEIVES ITS MAIN ENGINES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: FUEL TANK MATED TO SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: HOISTING FUEL TANK INTO CHECKOUT BAY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: EXTERNAL FUEL TANK UNLOADED FROM BARGE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MISSION'S FUEL TANK ARRIVES AT SPACEPORT PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: POST-FLIGHT DESERVICING: OMS POD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: POST-FLIGHT DESERVICING: OBSS BOOM PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: POST-FLIGHT DESERVICING: ENGINES PLAY | HI-DEF
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