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The Mission




Orbiter: Discovery
Mission: STS-128
Payload: Leonardo
Launch: Aug. 28, 2009
Time: 11:59 p.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: Sept. 11 @ approx. 8:53 p.m. EDT
Site: Edwards Air Force Base, California
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Management team clears Discovery for launch
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: August 28, 2009


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NASA's Mission Management Team cleared the shuttle Discovery for a fourth launch try Friday night, approving a waiver to pre-launch flight rules allowing engineers to cycle a liquid hydrogen valve, if necessary, to confirm it is closed.

Launch is targeted for 11:59:37 p.m. EDT, roughly the moment Earth's rotation carries the launch pad into the plane of the International Space Station's orbit.

Fueling was scheduled to begin at 2:34 p.m., but it was held up about 10 minutes because of concern about the possibility of lightning within five nautical miles of the launch pad. The forecast for launch calls for a 40 percent chance of unacceptable weather, with a chance of thunderstorms within 20 nautical miles.

Discovery's crew - commander Frederick Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford, flight engineer Jose Hernandez, Patrick Forrester, John "Danny" Olivas, European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang and space station flight engineer Nicole Stott - plans to begin strapping in around 8:40 p.m., weather permitting.

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Discovery's initial launch try early Tuesday was called off due to stormy weather near the launch pad. A second attempt was called off during fueling Tuesday night for a Wednesday morning launch when an 8-inch liquid hydrogen fill-and-drain valve in the shuttle's engine compartment failed to indicate it was closed.

NASA flight rules prohibited engineers from cycling the valve under cryogenic conditions out of a concern about a possibly unknown problem that could cause it to fail in the closed position, making it difficult to drain the tank after a delay. Launch was tentatively rescheduled for early Friday.

During tests Wednesday night, after Discovery's tank was drained, the valve and its position indicator both worked normally, cycling open and closed five times at ambient temperatures. A pressure decay test also indicated the valve closed normally.

Discovery had two launch opportunities Friday roughly 23-and-a-half hours apart. During an MMT meeting Thursday, NASA managers opted to pass up the first opportunity in favor of the second to give engineers more time to review the valve issue.

During today's meeting, a waiver was processed that will allow engineers to cycle the valve twice during fueling, if required, to confirm closing. In addition, engineers developed plans to use alternate cues to verify the valve's position.

The MMT also discussed a hydraulic system failure Thursday that delayed the test firing of a new five-segment solid-fuel booster intended for use in post-shuttle rockets. The hydraulic system in the test rocket is virtually identical to equipment used by Discovery's solid-fuel booster, but NASA managers found no problems with the shuttle hardware and cleared Discovery for flight.

Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: NARRATED MISSION OVERVIEW MOVIE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MEET SHUTTLE DISCOVERY'S ASTRONAUTS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF SHUTTLE'S PREPARATIONS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NARRATED REVIEW OF PAYLOADS' PREPARATIONS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE "COLBERT" TREADMILL PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: MANAGERS EXPLAIN REASON FOR SECOND SCRUB PLAY
VIDEO: WEATHER SCRUBS FIRST COUNTDOWN PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS DEPART QUARTERS FOR PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW GETS SUITED UP FOR LAUNCH ATTEMPT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LAUNCH PAD SERVICE GANTRY ROLLED BACK PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH RICK STURCKOW PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH KEVIN FORD PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH PAT FORRESTER PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH JOSE HERNANDEZ PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH DANNY OLIVAS PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTER FUGLESANG PLAY
VIDEO: PRE-LAUNCH INTERVIEW WITH NICOLE STOTT PLAY

VIDEO: AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: THE LAUNCH COUNTDOWN GETS UNDERWAY PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE AT THE CAPE FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: FLIGHT READINESS REVIEW SETS LAUNCH DATE PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: THE STS-128 MISSION OVERVIEW BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE PROGRAM MANAGER EXPLAINS FOAM ISSUES PLAY

VIDEO: PAYLOAD BAY DOORS CLOSED FOR FLIGHT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MISSION CARGO LOADED ABOARD DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: CREW TOURS PAD'S CLEANROOM PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: SHUTTLE EVACUATION PRACTICE PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS BOARD DISCOVERY PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: THE LAUNCH DAY SIMULATION BEGINS PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: PAD BUNKER TRAINING FOR THE CREW PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW BRIEFED ON EMERGENCY PROCEDURES PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: NIGHTTIME APPROACHES IN TRAINING AIRCRAFT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TEST-DRIVING EMERGENCY ARMORED TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: INFORMAL CREW NEWS CONFERENCE AT LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR PRACTICE COUNTDOWN PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE DISCOVERY ROLLS OUT PAD 39A PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ORBITER HOISTED FOR MATING TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: DISCOVERY MOVED TO ASSEMBLY BUILDING PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE OF DISCOVERY ARRIVING IN VAB PLAY

VIDEO: PAYLOADS DELIVERED TO LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: LEONARDO PUT INTO TRANSPORTER PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: STATION'S NEW AMMONIA TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: MPLM HATCH CLOSED FOR FLIGHT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: INSIDE SHUTTLE MAIN ENGINE SHOP PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: CREW EQUIPMENT INTERFACE TEST PLAY | HI-DEF
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