Back at the end of October, space shuttle Discovery, the oldest in NASA’s fleet, was sitting on a launch pad awaiting liftoff for its 39th and final trip into space. However, this launch was not to be as a technical problem forced cancellation. After the first delay, more problems were found that delayed the launch for months. Now, nearly 4 months after its original launch date, Discovery has been cleared for a Thursday, February 24 liftoff.
Needless to say, the anticipation will be extreme.
Initially set for an early November launch, Discovery has been delayed numerous times. With all the problems being found in the aging shuttle, there was some legitimate concern that the shuttle would never even get off the launch pad again as each new problem was more serious than the previous. Well, after a months-ling checkup that involved being removed from the launch pad and taken indoors at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA has finally cleared Discovery for a February 24 launch date.
If all goes according to plan, Discovery will blast off for its11-day, final mission to the International Space Station (ISS) at 3pm Thursday. As its primary objective, Discovery will transport a load of parts to the ISS including the ‘Robonaut,’ a humanoid robot designed to be the first permanent resident on the ISS.
Now, while Discovery may launch from Florida, that doesn’t mean Cleveland-are residents won’t be able to witness Discovery’s final flight, the first of the last flights for the shuttle fleet. Spaceweather has a handy satellite tracker on its website, which allows users all over the United States and Canada to get personalized flyby data for various satellites, including shuttles and the ISS. Last but not least, everything depends on the weather. Cloud wise this week, things are looking decidedly mixed, at least in the Cleveland area. Live somewhere else? See if it will be clearnear you.
Clear skies and good luck.
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