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STS-121: The mission
Tony Ceccacci, the lead shuttle flight director for STS-121, provides a highly informative day-by-day preview of Discovery's mission using animation and other presentations. Then Rick LaBrode, the lead International Space Station flight director during STS-121, explains all of the activities occurring onboard and outside the outpost while Discovery visits.

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Detailing the EVAs
Discovery's STS-121 mission to the International Space Station will feature two scheduled spacewalks and perhaps a third if consumables permit. Spacewalkers Mike Fossum and Piers Sellers will test whether the 50-foot inspection boom carried on the shuttle could be used as a work platform for repairing the heatshield and conduct maintenance chores outside the space station. Tomas Gonzalez-Torres, the mission's lead spacewalk officer, details all the three EVAs in this pre-flight news briefing.

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STS-121 program perspective
A comprehensive series of press briefings for space shuttle Discovery's upcoming STS-121 begins with a program overview conference by Wayne Hale, NASA's manager of the shuttle program, and Kirk Shireman, the deputy program manager of the International Space Station. The two men discuss the significance of Discovery's mission to their respective programs. The briefing was held June 8 at the Johnson Space Center.

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Exploration work
NASA officials unveil the plan to distribute work in the Constellation Program for robotic and human moon and Mars exploration. This address to agency employees on June 5 was given by Administrator Mike Griffin, Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate Scott Horowitz and Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley.

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Exploration news briefing
Following their announcement on the Exploration work assignments to the various NASA centers, Mike Griffin, Scott Horowitz and Jeff Hanley hold this news conference to answer reporter questions.

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Crew named for shuttle mission delivering Node 2
Posted: June 19, 2006

NASA has assigned crew members to the space shuttle flight that will launch an Italian-built U.S. module for the International Space Station.

Air Force Col. Pamela A. Melroy will command the STS-120 mission to take the Node 2 connecting module to the station. Melroy, a veteran shuttle pilot, is the second woman to command a shuttle. Marine Corps Col. George D. Zamka will serve as pilot. The flight's mission specialists will be Scott E. Parazynski, Army Col. Douglas H. Wheelock, Navy Capt. Michael J. Foreman and Paolo A. Nespoli, a European Space Agency astronaut from Italy. Zamka, Wheelock, Foreman and Nespoli will be making their first spaceflight.

STS-120 will be Melroy's third shuttle flight. The native of Palo Alto, Calif., served as pilot of missions STS-92 in 2000 and STS-112 in 2002, both flights to the space station. Zamka, a native of Jersey City, N.J., has a bachelor's from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., and a master's from the Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Fla.

Parazynski, who also considers Palo Alto, Calif., his hometown along with Evergreen, Colo., will be making his fifth shuttle flight and is a veteran spacewalker. Wheelock, a native of Windsor, N.Y., is a West Point graduate with a master's from Georgia Tech, Atlanta. Foreman is a Wadsworth, Ohio, native with a bachelor's and a master's from the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif. Nespoli is a native of Milan, Italy. He has a bachelor's and a master's from the Polytechnic University of New York.

This crew announcement reflects reassignments of other astronauts to other missions and to technical and management positions within NASA.

Nespoli's mission will be carried out in the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Italian space agency (ASI) and NASA for the supply to NASA of three pressurised Multi-Purpose Logistic Modules (MPLM) and the assignment to Italy of flight opportunities and ISS utilisation.

The International Space Station will have three Nodes, provided by NASA. Node 1, called Unity, was developed by NASA. It became the second ISS module in orbit after its launch in December 1998. Nodes 2 and 3 are being developed for NASA under an ESA contract with European industry, with Alcatel-Alenia Space as prime contractor. ESA assigned responsibility for Node 2 development to the Italian space agency (ASI), in order to take advantage of the same structural concept as the Multipurpose Pressurised Logistics Module (MPLM), a pressurised cargo container which travels in the Shuttle's cargo bay, and Columbus.

Node 2 is the first European node to be launched. It will serve as a connecting element for the European Columbus laboratory, the US laboratory Destiny and the Japanese laboratory Kibo. It also will be the attachment point for the Japanese HII transfer vehicle. It will carry a docking adapter for the US Space Shuttle and serve as an attachment point for the MPLMs.

Node 2 is also designed to be a working base point for the Remote Manipulator System, a Canadian robotic arm on the ISS called Canadarm 2. Node 3 will eventually house the life support equipment necessary for the permanent crew of six and will also accommodate ESA's Cupola observation module, a seven-window dome-shaped structure from where Canadarm 2 will be operated and the crew will have a panoramic view of space. Node 3 will be attached to the nadir port of Node 1 and will be delivered by ESA to NASA early in 2007.