Spaceflight Now: STS-103 Mission Report


BY JUSTIN RAY and STAFF WRITERS

December 28, 1999 -- Follow the launch and mission of space shuttle Discovery to repair the Hubble Space Telescope. All times are given in Greenwich Mean Time. Feel free to e-mail us your comments. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

2000 GMT (3:00 p.m. EST)

The seven astronauts have departed the Space Coast after a night's sleep in Cocoa Beach with their families. The crew opted not to stay in quarters at Kennedy Space Center, NASA says. Arrival of the astronauts back in Houston is expected in a couple of hours.

Meanwhile, space shuttle Discovery is back in its hangar following an overnight tow from the runway. The ship is reported in good shape after its eight days in space with one minor exception. Officials say one black tile is missing on the right inboard elevon next to the fuselage. The missing tile measures 9 inches by 4 1/2 inches. The tile is one of thousands that cover the space shuttle to protect it during the fiery reentry into Earth's atmosphere. The missing tile allowed no significant damage to Discovery and the space agency says the astronauts were never in any danger.

Over the next two days, shuttle's fuel cells and propellant tanks will be deserviced and safed. Then, Discovery and sisterships Atlantis and Endeavour at Kennedy Space Center will be powered down for the Y2K rollover. Routine processing work will resume on January 4.

The next flight of Discovery is scheduled for launch on June 14. The STS-92 mission will ferry a truss segment and docking port to the International Space Station.

The next launch for the space shuttle program is planned for mid-to-late January when Endeavour begins an 11-day mission to map the Earth's surface with radar. An exact date is still pending.

Finally, we would like to thank all of you for your kind notes about our coverage and the well wishes for the holidays.

This will conclude our Mission Status Center coverage of Discovery's STS-103 flight and the third servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope.

0139 GMT (8:39 p.m. EST)

After an eight-day space journey spanning 119 orbits and 3.2 million miles, the astronauts of the last human spaceflight of the millennium have departed the runway headed for the crew quarters in Kennedy Space Center's Operations & Checkout Building. They have completed a tour of shuttle Discovery on the runway and are preparing to be reunited with their families.

The seven astronauts are among the 390 different people that have flown in space during this millennium. Beginning with the first manned spaceflight, Yuri Gagarin's flight for the Soviet Union in 1961, 354 men and 36 women from 29 countries have ventured into Earth orbit.

NASA says Discovery's crew will return to their homes in Houston on Tuesday, departing from Patrick Air Force Base at 2:30 p.m. EST. A ceremony is planned to welcome the astronauts home at Ellington Field near Johnson Space Center at about 5 p.m. local time. The event will occur at Hangar 990 and is open to the general public.

Our Mission Status Center coverage of STS-103 will continue later on Tuesday with confirmation of Discovery's return to its hangar.

0116 GMT (8:16 p.m. EST)

Various members of senior NASA management are welcoming the shuttle astronauts on the runway. The crewmembers have left the transport vehicle and are beginning the walkaround the shuttle, kicking the tires and looking at the spacecraft they were aboard for the past eight days.

0046 GMT (7:46 p.m. EST)

All seven of Discovery's international astronauts were reported off the spaceship by 7:42 p.m. EST. The crew is now in the transport vehicle, a motorized people-mover, parked next to the shuttle's hatch. Later they are expected to make the traditional walkaround of the shuttle on the runway.

With the crew egress complete, soon control of the shuttle will be handed from Johnson Space Center to the Kennedy Space Center.

Meanwhile, we have received several e-mails for folks who saw the shuttle soaring overhead during the trek into Kennedy Space Center tonight. In Dallas, a Spaceflight Now reader saw a white blaze followed by a long trail of smoke. In east Texas, one person said it was clearly visible directly overhead at 6:44 p.m. EST and a sonic boom was heard about five minutes later. In New Orleans the shuttle was seen streaking across the sky somewhat north of the city, passing right on schedule at about 6:46 p.m. EST in a not-quite-dark sky. A muffled sonic boom was heard about five minutes later there, too. Finally in Pensacola, Florida, the shuttle appeared as an orange dot at about 6:48 EST.

Also, we have posted a 348k QuickTime video file of Discovery's landing.

0017 GMT (7:17 p.m. EST)

Discovery's main engine nozzles have been moved to the so-called "rain drain" position and the three auxiliary power units have been turned off. Also, Mission Control has given the crew the OK to take off their heavy day-glo orange launch and entry suits.

0007 GMT (7:07 p.m. EST)

The astronauts continue post-landing safing of the Discovery. The external tank umbilical doors have been opened and pyrotechnics have been safed. The crew should exit the shuttle within the next 40 to 45 minutes.

Mission Control has announced the preliminary landing times:

Main gear touchdown
7:00:47 p.m. EST
MET of 7 days, 23 hours, 10 minutes, 47 seconds

Nose gear touchdown
7:00:58 p.m. EST
MET of 7 days, 23 hours, 10 minutes, 58 seconds

Wheels stop
7:01:34 p.m. EST
MET of 7 days, 23 hours, 11 minutes, 24 seconds

0001 GMT (7:01 p.m. EST)

WHEELS STOP. Discovery has rolled to a stop at Kennedy Space Center following the successful mission to repair and enhance NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, readying the craft for a new millennium of observing the cosmos.

0000 GMT (7:00 p.m. EST)

TOUCHDOWN! Main gear touchdown. Drag chute deployed. Nose gear touchdown. Space shuttle Discovery rolling out on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center to complete a century of human spaceflight.

0000 GMT (7:00 p.m. EST)

Wheels down and locked. Standing by for touchdown on Kennedy Space Center's Runway 33.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 27, 1999
2359 GMT (6:59 p.m. EST)


Orbiter flaring up.

2358 GMT (6:58 p.m. EST)

Field in sight. Curt Brown can see the runway.

2357 GMT (6:57 p.m. EST)

Discovery is in the heading alignment cone, an imaginary circle to align with Runway 33. Curt Brown will make a 232-degree right overhead turn.

2357 GMT (6:57 p.m. EST)

20 miles from the runway, 36,000 feet up. The sonic booms have been heard at KSC, announcing the shuttle's arrival.

2356 GMT (6:56 p.m. EST)

Commander Curt Brown has taken manual control of Discovery.

2355 GMT (6:55 p.m. EST)

Discovery's wings are level. Now 33 miles from the runway.

2354 GMT (6:54 p.m. EST)

Live video now being received from Discovery's cockpit. Nominal drag chute deploy has been cleared. Winds at the runway are direct left crosswind at 6 peak 9 knots.

2353 GMT (6:53 p.m. EST)

The final roll command has been issued by Discovery's computers. Air data probes have been deployed from the shuttle's nose.

2352 GMT (6:52 p.m. EST)

Discovery has made landfall in Florida, passing just north of Tampa. Long-range tracking cameras at Kennedy Space Center have already spotted the shuttle at an altitude of 110,000 feet and 125 miles away.

2351 GMT (6:51 p.m. EST)

Altitude currently 130,000 feet, range to the landing site is 200 miles. Landing is less than 10 minutes away.

2350 GMT (6:50 p.m. EST)

Discovery is now reversing its bank back to the left.

2349 GMT (6:49 p.m. EST)

Discovery is about half-way across the Gulf of Mexico, about 340 miles from Kennedy Space Center.

2348 GMT (6:48 p.m. EST)

The shuttle now heading out over the Gulf of Mexico bound for Florida.

2347 GMT (6:47 p.m. EST)

Discovery is now passing 33 miles above the border between Louisiana and Mississippi.

2345 GMT (6:45 p.m. EST)

Now 16 minutes from landing, Discovery is clearly visible from the ground at Mission Control in Houston. Altitude is 197,000 feet and 924 miles from Kennedy Space Center.

2343 GMT (6:43 p.m. EST)

Discovery is now banking to right, the second of four rolls during entry designed to reduce speed. Velocity currently 12,300 miles per hour.

2341 GMT (6:41 p.m. EST)

Now over west Texas heading easterward. Discovery is 42 miles up and 1,500 miles from Kennedy Space Center.

2340 GMT (6:40 p.m. EST)

Discovery is now 21 minutes and 2,000 miles from landing.

2339 GMT (6:39 p.m. EST)

The shuttle has made landfall over North America, passing above Baja California and headed toward northwest Mexico before continuing across Texas and Louisiana.

2336 GMT (6:36 p.m. EST)

Discovery is currently at an altitude of 46 statute miles, 2,800 miles from the runway. The shuttle's aerosurfaces are now active.

2335 GMT (6:35 p.m. EST)

The space shuttle is currently in the first of four planned banks to scrub off speed as it plunges into the atmosphere. This is a turn to the left. These rolls basically remove the energy Discovery built up during launch.

2333 GMT (6:33 p.m. EST)

A reminder of what we mentioned a bit earlier. Discovery's path toward the Kennedy Space Center will cross central Texas and southern Louisiana before heading over the Gulf of Mexico. Since Discovery's trek home will occur at night, the shuttle's fiery trail should be seen by folks throughout Texas and Louisiana between 6:40 and 6:46 p.m. EST (2340-2346 GMT). We welcome e-mail from anyone who spots the shuttle tonight.

2329 GMT (6:29 p.m. EST)

The protective tiles on the belly of Discovery are now feeling heat beginning to build as the orbiter enters the top fringes of the atmosphere - a period known as Entry Interface. The shuttle is flying with its nose elevated 40 degrees, wings level, at an altitude of 400,000 feet, passing over the Pacific Ocean southwest of Hawaii about 4,200 nautical miles from the landing site. Touchdown is set for 7:01 p.m. EST at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

2325 GMT (6:25 p.m. EST)

Discovery is now 6,000 miles from the runway as it crosses the Pacific Ocean southwest of Hawaii.

2317 GMT (6:17 p.m. EST)

All three of Discovery's auxiliary power units have been started. The APUs provide the pressure needed to power the hydraulic systems of the shuttle. The units are used only during the launch and landing phases of the mission. For entry and touchdown, the APUs are required for such activities as moving the orbiter's aerosurfaces and deploying the landing gear.

2309 GMT (6:09 p.m. EST)

Discovery is flying nose-forward and heads-up high above Australia approaching entry interface in 20 minutes.

2305 GMT (6:05 p.m. EST)

All is reported in readiness at Kennedy Space Center for landing at 7:01 p.m. EST. The landing convoy team members are on station and set to receive the shuttle upon landing for safing. The team will tow Discovery to its hangar about three hours after landing.

Aboard the shuttle right now, the astronauts are preparing to dump remaining propellant from the forward reaction control system thrusters. The propellant is now longer needed.

2258 GMT (5:58 p.m. EST)

As Discovery moves into the last orbital sunrise of the STS-103 mission east of Australia, the shuttle is being maneuvered from its deorbit burn attitude of flying upside down and backwards to the reentry position of heads-up and nose-foward. In this new position, the black tiles on the shuttle's belly will shield the spacecraft during the fiery plunge through the Earth's atmosphere. The shuttle will begin entry interface at 6:29 p.m. EST at an altitude of 400,000 feet and 4,200 nautical miles from Kennedy Space Center.

2255 GMT (5:55 p.m. EST)

Following the deorbit burn, Discovery is in an orbit of 383 by 31 miles above Earth. The shuttle will hit the upper fringes of the atmosphere is just over a half-hour from now.

2253 GMT (5:53 p.m. EST)

Discovery has successfully completed the deorbit burn. The firing lasted four-minutes and 50 seconds, longer than usual because of the high altitude the shuttle has been flying at during this mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. The shuttle is now committed to landing, which is scheduled for 7:01 p.m. EST on Runway 33 at the Kennedy Space Center.

Today's landing will be the 20th consecutive to occur at Kennedy Space Center dating back to May 1996 and the 27th of the last 28 shuttle missions. KSC is the most used landing site for the space shuttle program with this the 49th touchdown. Edwards Air Force Base in California has seen 45 landings and White Sands in New Mexico supported one. STS-103 will also be the 13th night landing for the shuttle program and 8th at KSC.

2248 GMT (5:48 p.m. EST)

Flying upside down and backwards over the Indian Ocean, space shuttle Discovery has begun the deorbit burn for return to Earth. The firing of the two OMS engines on the tail of the shuttle will last just under five minutes, slowing the craft by about 348 miles per hour. The retro-burn will send Discovery toward a touchdown at 7:01 p.m. EST on a runway just miles from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad where the shuttle lifted off eight days ago.

2244 GMT (5:44 p.m. EST)

Four minutes to the deorbit burn. Discovery has been maneuvered to the proper attitude for the engine firing. Also, one of three auxiliary power units aboard Discovery is running to supply pressure to the shuttle's hydraulic systems. The other two units will be started later.

2236 GMT (5:36 p.m. EST)

The waiting game with the weather paid off today, NASA commentator Kyle Herring says. At the Kennedy Space Center, weather conditions are acceptable as the sun falls below the horizon.

Coming up on the deorbit burn in about 12 minutes. The commands have been loaded aboard Discovery's computers. The burn will now last four-minutes and 50 seconds, resulting in a change in velocity of 348 miles per hour. Landing still on target for 7:01 p.m. EST.

2228 GMT (5:28 p.m. EST)

Now 20 minutes to the deorbit burn.

Discovery's path toward the Kennedy Space Center will follow across the South Pacific, heading northeasterly. The shuttle will pass over Baja California and northwest Mexico, central Texas and southern Louisiana before crossing the Gulf of Mexico. Discovery will make landfall in Florida just north of Tampa and heading above central Florida toward Kennedy Space Center. Once over the Cape, commander Curt Brown will make a 232-degree right-overhead turn, flying over the Atlantic Ocean, to align with Runway 33 - KSC's southeast-to-northwest landing strip. Touchdown is expected at 7:01 p.m. EST.

Since Discovery's trek home will occur at night, the shuttle's fiery trail should be seen by folks in Texas and Louisiana between 6:40 and 6:46 p.m. EST (2340-2346 GMT). We would enjoy hearing from anyone who spots the shuttle tonight.

2219 GMT (5:19 p.m. EST)

Entry flight director Wayne Hale has given a final "go" for the deorbit burn and landing of Discovery tonight at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The current observation and forecast for the crosswinds at KSC are acceptable and the turbulence continues to decrease.

The twin orbital maneuvering system engines on the tail of the shuttle will be fired for four-minutes and 45 seconds beginning at 5:48:26 p.m. EST. Landing on Runway 33 at KSC is targeted to occur at 7:01 p.m. EST (0001 GMT).

2218 GMT (5:18 p.m. EST)

Entry flight director Wayne Hale now polling the flight control team in Mission Control for a "go/no go" for the deorbit burn, now 30 minutes away.

2216 GMT (5:16 p.m. EST)

Weather officials have just told entry flight director Wayne Hale that winds at Kennedy Space Center are decreasing even faster than expected. Conditions now look very promising for a landing at 7:01 p.m. EST tonight at KSC.

2207 GMT (5:07 p.m. EST)

Conditions continue to improve at the Kennedy Space Center for landing in less than two hours. A "go/no go" decision for the deorbit burn is expected shortly.

2158 GMT (4:58 p.m. EST)

Now 50 minutes away from the scheduled deorbit burn. The four-minute and 45-second firing of the twin orbital maneuvering system engines on the tail of Discovery will slow the ship enough to slip it out of orbit, beginning the trek home.

Again, we have posted the landing tracks for the second opportunity into Kennedy Space Center tonight. The shuttle should be visible to parts of Texas and Louisiana on the way into Florida.

2146 GMT (4:46 p.m. EST)

The astronauts have been told to start drinking, a positive step in preparations for returning to Earth. The crew will drink several cups of water to replace the fluids lost during their eight days in space, helping the readaptation process once back on the planet.

Crosswinds are still being watched but trending downward. The latest weather forecast currently indicates crosswinds right at the acceptable limit of 12 knots, but within limits nonetheless. Also, chief astronaut Charlie Precourt flying the shuttle training aircraft at KSC says the turbulence has dropped off significantly.

2139 GMT (4:39 p.m. EST)

Mission Control and commander Curt Brown has decided to switch ends of the runway at Kennedy Space Center for landing. Discovery is now set for landing on Runway 33 -- the southwest to northeast approach.

The crew was informed of the latest game plan for the next landing opportunity. The plan begins with the deorbit burn -- the orbital maneuvering system engine firing -- at 5:48:26 p.m. EST (2248:26 GMT). The four-minute and 45-second burn will slow Discovery by about 508 feet per second, enough to drop the 110-ton shuttle from orbit to start the hour-long dive through Earth's atmosphere. The shuttle will arrive at KSC from the west, passing over the Cape before making a 232-degree right-overhead turn above the Atlantic Ocean to align with Runway 33.

2131 GMT (4:31 p.m. EST)

Discovery is flying over 300 miles above northeastern Australia and approaching the second landing opportunity at Kennedy Space Center in 2 1/2-hours from now. The latest weather update does indicate the crosswinds are trending downward at KSC, which is very good news. The crosswind limit for a nighttime landing at KSC is 12 knots.

2110 GMT (4:10 p.m. EST)

Chief NASA astronaut Charlie Precourt is on the ground at Kennedy Space Center for a refueling stop and quick break. He plans to resume weather reconnaissance at KSC in about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, entry flight director Wayne Hale will receive another weather update from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at Mission Control in the next few minutes.

Still over an hour before a decision would be made on the fate of this upcoming landing opportunity.

2100 GMT (4:00 p.m. EST)

Clocks in Mission Control are now counting down to the next opportunity to bring Discovery home tonight at Kennedy Space Center. The five-minute deorbit burn would begin at 5:48:26 p.m. EST (2248:26 GMT) with touchdown at KSC at 7:01 p.m. EST (0001 GMT).

NASA continues to hope the crosswinds at Kennedy Space Center will decrease enough to allow Discovery to return home. However, since this second opportunity is a nighttime landing, the crosswind limit is more strict. Instead of 15 knots during the day, the limit will be 12 knots.

There is a third landing possibility at KSC today. That would begin with a deorbit burn at 7:32 p.m. EST (0032:12 GMT Tuesday) and landing at 8:43 p.m. EST (0143 GMT).

2050 GMT (3:50 p.m. EST)

We have posted new landing tracks for the second opportunity into Kennedy Space Center tonight. Those folks throughout central Texas and Louisiana should take note. Discovery's unpowered glide through the atmosphere will heat a plasma layer around the heat-protecting tiles and creating a brilliant streak across the night sky for many ground observers. Weather permitting, ground observers will be able to see the entry path about 100 miles on each side of the track.

2045 GMT (3:45 p.m. EST)

The flight control team is working on the information to be given to Discovery for the second deorbit burn opportunity today into Kennedy Space Center. Flight director Wayne Hale has also told the team to work the numbers for the upcoming Edwards Air Force Base landing attempt as well. In addition, Hale will be receiving a full weather briefing on conditions expected for the targeted 7:01 p.m. EST landing time at KSC and the forecast for Tuesday in Florida and California.

2040 GMT (3:40 p.m. EST)

WAVE OFF. Entry flight director Wayne Hale has just decided to skip the first landing attempt today for space shuttle Discovery. The planned 5:18 p.m. EST touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center was cancelled due to unacceptable wind conditions. At KSC, crosswinds are currently sustained at 16 knots, or one-knot higher than the limit.

The plan now calls for Discovery to make another orbit of Earth while waiting for the winds to decrease. The deorbit burn for the next opportunity would occur at 5:49 p.m. EST (2249 GMT) with landing in darkness at 7:01 p.m. EST (0001 GMT Tuesday).

2035 GMT (3:35 p.m. EST)

Flight director Wayne Hale is about to get another weather update from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at Johnson Space Center, the team responisble for forecasting the weather conditions at landing sites for the shuttle program. We should know the fate of this first landing attempt very soon.

2029 GMT (3:29 p.m. EST)

Commander Curt Brown and crew are now making routine gimbal checks of Discovery's twin orbital maneuvering system engines.

2023 GMT (3:23 p.m. EST)

The crew of space shuttle Discovery has just been told that the decision on whether to proceed with this landing opportunity will be made in about 15 minutes. Currently, NASA's chief astronaut Charlie Precourt flying the shuttle landing aircraft at Kennedy Space Center says turbulence is a bit of a problem. In addition, the crosswinds are now one-knot above the limit during wind gusts. Precourt plans to make another approach into the shuttle runway at KSC in about five minutes to see if the turbulence is increasing.

2010 GMT (3:10 p.m. EST)

Discovery has crossed the equator to begin the 118th orbit of the STS-103 mission. Crosswinds are still being watched at Kennedy Space Center. The winds are currently gusting up to 18 knots and the limit is 15 knots, NASA commentator Kyle Herring said. NASA could wait until the final minutes before the 4:06 p.m. EST deorbit burn, if necessary, to monitor the winds. If the winds do not cooperate on this first landing opportunity, there are two more later tonight at Kennedy Space Center: 7:01 and 8:43 p.m. EST.

1955 GMT (2:55 p.m. EST)

The astronauts have been told to hold off beginning their so-called "fluid-loading" prior to entry and landing while officials examine the crosswind problem at Kennedy Space Center. This decision to delay the crew's timeline is often seen as a key sign NASA is thinking about pushing the landing back one orbit.

Fluid loading is a procedure where the crewmembers get as much fluid as they can in their bodies to replace that lost in space, helping the readaptation to Earth's gravity. The loading typically lasts the one hour before the deorbit burn.

1947 GMT (2:47 p.m. EST)

Meteorologists have just announced the current weather observation at Kennedy Space Center shows crosswinds slightly out of limits. The official forecast for landing time at 5:18 p.m. EST (2218 GMT) is still "go." Winds are expected to decrease as the days goes on. In about one hour, flight director Wayne Hale should make the "go/no go" decision whether to allow Discovery to land on schedule or wait in space for another orbit.

1941 GMT (2:41 p.m. EST)

CAPCOM Scott Altman has just radioed Discovery all the data for the upcoming deorbit burn. The latest entry plan calls for a near-five-minute deorbit burn to begin at about 4:06 p.m. EST, slowing the shuttle by 507 feet per second.

Weather still looks good.

1921 GMT (2:21 p.m. EST)

Chief NASA astronaut Charlie Precourt is preparing to begin weather reconnaissance flights aboard the Shuttle Training Aircraft at Kennedy Space Center. The so-called STA is a modified Gulfstream jet that simulates the flying characteristics of the space shuttle. Precourt will be making approaches to the three-mile-long Shuttle Landing Facility runway at KSC for the rest of the afternoon and passing his observations along to Mission Control.

At this point, weather conditions continue to look favorable and landing remains set to occur in just under three hours at 5:18 p.m. EST (2218 GMT).

1900 GMT (2:00 p.m. EST)

Space shuttle Discovery is making its final orbits of the Earth this afternoon before heading home to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

If all continues to go well and weather conditions cooperate, the astronauts will fire the shuttle's twin orbital maneuvering system engines for four minutes and 58 seconds beginning at 4:06:40 p.m. EDT. The burn will slow Discovery by about 525 feet per second, enough to drop the 110-ton shuttle from orbit to start the hour-long dive through Earth's atmosphere. Discovery should begin feeling the upper fringes of the atmosphere at 4:47:30 p.m. EST at an altitude of 415,000 feet. At 5:14:52 p.m. EST, commander Curt Brown will make a 300-degree left-overhead turn to align Discovery with Kennedy Space Center's Runway 15. Landing is expected at 5:18:50 p.m. EST.

1851 GMT (1:51 p.m. EST)

Discovery's flight computers have switched from the on-orbit to the entry software.

1830 GMT (1:30 p.m. EST)

Mission Control has given the astronauts the "go" to transition Discovery's onboard computers from the OPS-2 on-orbit software to the OPS-3 software package for landing.

Read our earlier Mission Status Center coverage.

Flight data file
Vehicle: Discovery (OV-103)
Payload: HST Servicing Mission-3A
Launch date: Dec. 20, 1999
Launch window: 0050-0132 GMT (7:50-8:32 p.m. EST Dec. 19)
Launch site: LC-39B, Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
Landing date: Dec. 28, 1999
Landing time: 0001 GMT (7:01 p.m. EST Dec. 27)
Landing site: SLF, Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Photo gallery
Landing tracks - maps of the ground track Discovery will follow toward landing.

Deployment - images of Hubble's release from Discovery on Saturday.

Third spacewalk - views from Friday's spacewalk.

Second spacewalk - views from Thursday's spacewalk.

First spacewalk - views from Wednesday's spacewalk.

Retrieval - images from the rendezvous and capture of Hubble.

Launch - images from the countdown and launch.

Video vault
NEW! The space shuttle Discovery touches down in darkness at the Kennedy Space Center.
  PLAY (348k QuickTime file)

The Hubble Space Telescope is set free from the grip of the shuttle's robot arm, refurbished and ready to resume its scientific work.
  PLAY (733k QuickTime file)

British born astronaut Michael Foale removes Hubble's old computer during the second spacewalk of the mission.
  PLAY (450k QuickTime file)

Space shuttle Discovery launches on STS-103 for the third mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope.
  PLAY (596k QuickTime file)

Discovery's solid rocket boosters peel away from the shuttle's external fuel tank just over two minutes into flight.
  PLAY (218k QuickTime file)

The STS-103 crew depart their crew quarters on Sunday afternoon headed for launch pad 39B.
  PLAY (341k QuickTime file)

NASA Launch Director Dave King announces that the first launch attempt on Friday was scrubbed because of bad weather.
  PLAY (253k QuickTime file)

Download QuickTime 4 software to view this file.

Meet the crew
Curt Brown - Biography of STS-103 crew commander.

Scott Kelly - Biography of STS-103 pilot.

Steve Smith - Biography of STS-103 mission specialist No. 1.

Jean-Francois Clervoy - Biography of STS-103 mission specialist No. 2.

John Grunsfeld - Biography of STS-103 mission specialist No. 3.

Michael Foale - Biography of STS-103 mission specialist No. 4.

Claude Nicollier - Biography of STS-103 mission specialist No. 5.

Explore the Net
NASA Human Spaceflight - Space agency Web site dedicated to International Space Station and space shuttle programs.

Press kit - Official STS-103 mission press kit.

Shuttle Media Reference Guide - Complete in-depth look at space shuttle systems and facilities.

Shuttle Countdown Online - NASA Kennedy Space Center site with pre-launch information.

Hubble Space Telescope - Home page of NASA's first Great Observatory.

HST Servicing Mission 3A - NASA site focused on this servicing mission of Hubble.

European Space Agency - partner in HST program and has two astronauts flying on STS-103.

United Space Alliance - prime contractor responsible for daily shuttle processing work.

Thiokol - Manufactures the shuttle's solid rocket boosters.

Rocketdyne - Division of Boeing that builds shuttle main engines.

Lockheed Martin - Corporation that builds the external fuel tank.

Mission patch
PatchThe official STS-103 Hubble repair mission embroidered patch is now available from the Astronomy Now Store.

Baseball caps
NEW! The NASA "Meatball" logo appears on a series of stylish baseball caps available now from the Astronomy Now Store.
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