On Monday, April 5th, 2010; NASA’s space shuttle Discovery launched into orbit from Kennedy Space Center at 6:21 A.M (US Eastern Time) for an orbiter mission to the International Space Station. This successful launch may be one of the last four shuttle launches to supply the International Space Station before the fleet retires this year.
Discovery contains a crew of seven: Stephanie Wilson, Richard Mastracchio, Clayton Anderson, Naoko Yamazaki a Japanese astronaut, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Navy Captain Alan Poindexter, and James Dutton.
Discovery also contains 16,000 pounds (8 metric tons) of necessary supplies including space equipment for the labratories in the ISS.
According to NASA’s website, Discovery’s Ku-Band antenna used for communications ranging from conveying video feed and other parts of the shuttle’s systems, could most likely be lost for the remaining 12 days of the space trip.
This minor occurence will not have a deadly effect on the shuttle’s workings as it has other communication systems and the crew will still be able to dock into the International Space Station. Three spacewalks are expected to be made during this orbital mission to retrieve a Japanese space experiment, implement an ammonia storage tank, and replace a gyroscope on the station. The space shuttle is scheduled to dock at the ISS at approximately 3:44 A.M (US Eastern Time, 12:44 A.M: US Western Time)
The shuttle’s name Discovery has, according to NASA, a “traditional” history of carrying the name from other expeditionary vessels in human history such as a vessel, that was called Discovery, serving under Henry Hudson in the search for the long-famous northwest passage and the name also had precedent originating from the famous explorer James Cook who explored the coasts of western Canada and Alaska. The space shuttle itself has flown in 1984 and will retire in 2010.