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Space Shuttle Discovery Ready for Launch

space shuttle discovery
The space shuttle Discovery is seen shortly after the Rotating Service Structure was rolled back at launch pad 39A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011. Photo by NASA/Bill Ingalls

CAPE CANAVERAL -- Meteorologists expect fine weather this afternoon for the launch of space shuttle Discovery. The forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time, 4:50 p.m. EST. The shuttle stands on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida where the launch team is working methodically through the launch day checklists.

space shuttle discovery crew
Space shuttle Discovery crew

Discovery, on its 39th and final flight, will carry the Italian-built Permanent Multipurpose Module, Express Logistics Carrier 4 and Robonaut 2, the first humanoid robot in space, to the International Space Station.

Fast fill of the external fuel tank began at 8:15 a.m. with the liquid oxygen and one minute later for the liquid hydrogen. The propellants are used by the shuttle's three main engines during the launch into orbit. The fueling process is expected to be finished at about 10:25 a.m. From there, propellants will be trickled into the tank to replace the portion of the chemicals that evaporate during the countdown.

The space shuttle Discovery is scheduled for a 4:50 p.m. EST launch this afternoon from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch team is working methodically through the launch day checklists.

Published February 24, 2011

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