Spaceflight Now



The Mission




Orbiter: Discovery
Mission: STS-120
Payload: Harmony module
Launch: Oct. 23, 2007
Time: 11:38 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: Nov. 7 @ 1:01 p.m. EST
Site: Shuttle Landing Facility, KSC

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STS-120 Quick-Look

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The Crew




Meet the astronauts flying aboard Discovery's STS-120 mission.

Meet the Astronauts

CDR: Pam Melroy

PLT: George Zamka

MS 1: Scott Parazynski

MS 2: Stephanie Wilson

MS 3: Doug Wheelock

MS 4: Paolo Nespoli

Up: Dan Tani

Down: Clay Anderson

Current Demographics




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Video archive

STS-120 day 2 highlights

Flight Day 2 of Discovery's mission focused on heat shield inspections. This movie shows the day's highlights.

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STS-120 day 1 highlights

The highlights from shuttle Discovery's launch day are packaged into this movie.

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STS-120: Crew arrival

The space shuttle Discovery astronauts arrive at the Kennedy Space Center for their countdown to launch.

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STS-120: The programs

In advance of shuttle Discovery's STS-120 mission to the station, managers from both programs discuss the flight.

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STS-120: The mission

Discovery's trip to the station will install the Harmony module and move the P6 solar wing truss. The flight directors present a detailed overview of STS-120.

 Part 1 | Part 2

STS-120: Spacewalks

Five spacewalks are planned during Discovery's STS-120 assembly mission to the station. Lead spacewalk officer Dina Contella previews the EVAs.

 Full briefing
 EVA 1 summary
 EVA 2 summary
 EVA 3 summary
 EVA 4 summary
 EVA 5 summary

The Discovery crew

The Discovery astronauts, led by commander Pam Melroy, meet the press in the traditional pre-flight news conference.

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'Outstanding' performance from Discovery's fuel tank
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: October 24, 2007

The shuttle Discovery's foam-covered external fuel tank performed well during launch Tuesday, NASA officials said today, shedding only a half-dozen pieces of insulation - all well after the period when such debris can pose an impact hazard - with no signs of damage to the orbiter's heat shield.


A photo of Discovery's tank after separation showed a small piece of foam missing, apparently due to a phenomenon known as "cryo-pumping." Credit: NASA
 
John Shannon, chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team, said a preliminary assessment of launch imagery, television shots from the shuttle during the climb to space and imagery shot by the astronauts as Discovery separated from the tank in space showed no major problems.

"We have not seen anything that would cause us any concern at all," he told reporters after an unusually short MMT meeting Wednesday. "We'll continue to look, we'll look at the solid rocket booster videos on Friday to make sure that's true, but there was nothing of any mass at all that was released during that (aerodynamically critical) time. Even the material that was released later on, we don't think it was anything that could have caused damage."

Today, the Discovery astronauts inspected the shuttle's reinforced carbon carbon - RCC - nose cap and wing leading edge panels using a laser scanner and a high-resolution digital camera. While the analysis is not yet complete, engineers have not seen any obvious signs of trouble with any of the critical panels, including three that raised concern before launch because of degradation in a protective coating.

"The performance of the tank was outstanding," Shannon said. "The tank really performed well. The RCC imagery, it was the same thing, no one has seen anything that was of any concern to them. They do a much more detailed analysis as the evening goes on, we'll continue to look at it, but there was really nothing. ... Right now we have no TPS (thermal protection system) issues at all."

External tank No. 120 was jokingly referred to as "Frankentank" by NASA insiders because of extensive foam dissection and modification work carried out in the wake of earlier problems. ET-120 was assigned to the first post-Columbia mission and was fueled twice before being replaced because of problems with hydrogen tank fuel sensors. The tank was sent back to Lockheed Martin's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans to serve as a test article in the wake of a major foam loss during the first post-Columbia flight. It later was returned to flight status and assigned to Discovery.

Shannon said ET-120's performance during Discovery's launch was not a surprise, saying "I'm extremely confident in the tanks we're flying now, but we're just making them better."

Of the half-dozen pieces of foam that fell from the tank after solid rocket booster separation, one was an 8-by-6-inch chunk near one of the forward bipod struts used to anchor the shuttle's nose to the tank. Shannon said this is the third flight in a row where foam has separated from that area, apparently due to a phenomenon known as "cryo-pumping."

When air gets under the foam, either due to a crack or some other avenue, it liquifies because of the tank's ultra-low temperature. During launch, when the tank heats up due to atmospheric friction, the liquid can turn back into a gas with enough force to blow off small chunks of overlying foam. Shannon said engineers are unsure about what's going on in the area near the bipod strut. But given the timing of the releases, it does not pose an impact threat to the shuttle.

"We didn't see anything new on this tank that surprised us at all," he said. "The performance was just better. We'll go look at that one little area and see if there's some collateral damage potentially that is causing that same area to pop off on three flights in a row. It's not a concern to us because of when it comes off but you'd like to understand what's going on so we'll go look at that. But overall, the tank performed extremely well."

The Discovery astronauts plan to dock with the international space station early Thursday to kick off one of the most challenging orbital construction missions yet attempted. Here is a timeline of the final stages of the rendezvous (in EDT and mission elapsed time):



DATE/EDT...DD...HH...MM...EVENT

10/25/07
01:08 AM...01...13...30...ISS crew wakeup
01:38 AM...01...14...00...STS crew wakeup
02:53 AM...01...15...15...Group B computer powerup
02:58 AM...01...15...25...Begin rendezvous timeline
05:45 AM...01...18...07...ISS in attitude for docking
05:55 AM...01...18...17...TI burn
06:31 AM...01...18...53...Sunset
06:31 AM...01...18...53...Zvezda module lights on
06:31 AM...01...18...53...ISS in rendezvous mode
06:45 AM...01...19...07...US arrays feathered
06:54 AM...01...19...16...Range: 10,000 feet
07:01 AM...01...19...23...Sunrise
07:02 AM...01...19...24...Range: 5,000 feet
07:08 AM...01...19...30...Range: 3,000 feet
07:12 AM...01...19...34...MC-4 rendezvous burn
07:16 AM...01...19...38...Range: 1,500 feet
07:17 AM...01...19...39...Rendezvous pitch start window open
07:21 AM...01...19...43...Range: 1,000 feet
07:24 AM...01...19...46...KU antenna to low power
07:25 AM...01...19...47...+R bar arrival; Discovery is directly below ISS
07:30 AM...01...19...52...Range: 600 feet
07:32 AM...01...19...54...Start pitch maneuver
07:32 AM...01...19...54...Noon
07:39 AM...01...20...01...RPM full photo window close
07:40 AM...01...20...02...End pitch maneuver
07:43 AM...01...20...05...Initiate pitch up maneuver
07:47 AM...01...20...09...RPM start window close
07:47 AM...01...20...09...Russian arrays feathered
07:54 AM...01...20...16...+V bar arrival; Discovery is directly in front of ISS
07:55 AM...01...20...17...Range: 300 feet
07:59 AM...01...20...21...Range: 250 feet
08:03 AM...01...20...25...Sunset
08:03 AM...01...20...25...Range: 200 feet
08:06 AM...01...20...28...Range: 170 feet
08:08 AM...01...20...30...Range: 150 feet
08:12 AM...01...20...34...Range: 100 feet
08:15 AM...01...20...37...Range: 75 feet
08:19 AM...01...20...41...Range: 50 feet
08:22 AM...01...20...44...Range: 30 feet; start station keeping
08:27 AM...01...20...49...End station keeping; push to dock
08:32 AM...01...20...54...Range: 10 feet
08:33 AM...01...20...55...Sunrise
08:33 AM...01...20...55...DOCKING

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 2 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: BRIEFING ON LAUNCH IMAGERY AND TANK'S PERFORMANCE PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: HEAT SHIELD INSPECTIONS EXPLAINED PLAY
VIDEO: THE FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY

VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S LAUNCH AS SEEN LIVE PLAY
VIDEO: EXTERNAL TANK CAMERA FROM LIFTOFF TO ORBIT PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: VAB ROOF PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: KSC RUNWAY PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: BEACH TRACKER PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: UCS-23 WIDESCREEN PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PLAYALINDA WIDESCREEN PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: WEST TOWER PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: PRESS SITE PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 009 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 049 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 050 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 051 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 054 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 060 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 061 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 063 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 070 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA 071 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA UCS-12 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA UCS-15 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA CS-1 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA CS-2 PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH REPLAY: CAMERA CS-6 PLAY

VIDEO: THE CREW DEPARTS QUARTERS FOR THE PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS SUITS UP ON LAUNCH MORNING PLAY
VIDEO: A LOOK BACK AT SHUTTLE DISCOVERY'S HISTORY PLAY
VIDEO: PAD 39A'S ROTATING GANTRY MOVED BACK PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW CLIPS WITH THE ASTRONAUTS PLAY
VIDEO: MONDAY MORNING'S STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: SUNDAY COUNTDOWN STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY COUNTDOWN STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: WATCH THE CREW'S ARRIVAL FOR LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: NEWS CONFERENCE AFTER FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE DISCOVERY ROLLS TO LAUNCH PAD 39A PLAY
VIDEO: CRANE HOISTS DISCOVERY FOR MATING TO TANK PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY MOVED TO THE VEHICLE ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY
VIDEO: HYDRAULIC SEALS REPLACED ON LANDING GEAR STRUT PLAY
VIDEO: FUEL TANK ATTACHED TO SOLID ROCKET BOOSTERS PLAY
VIDEO: FOAM REMOVED FROM FUEL TANK FEEDLINE BRACKETS PLAY

VIDEO: STS-120 MISSION OVERVIEW BRIEFING PART 1 | PART 2
VIDEO: PREVIEW OF THE MISSION'S FIVE SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: DISCOVERY'S ASTRONAUTS MEET THE PRESS PLAY
VIDEO: BRIEFING ON SHUTTLE AND ISS PROGRAMS PLAY
MORE: STS-120 VIDEO COVERAGE
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