From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2009
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
HOUSTON - Space shuttle Discovery turned midnight into noon along the central Florida coast with launch at 10:59 p.m. CDT (11:59 p.m. EDT) beginning its 37th mission - a flight to deliver supplies and research facilities to the International Space Station and its six-person crew.
Commander Rick Sturckow, Pilot Kevin Ford and Mission Specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas, Nicole Stott and Christer Fuglesang representing the European Space Agency reached orbit eight and a half minutes later as the space station flew 225 miles up, southwest of Tasmania.
Aboard the station watching Discovery's launch on a live feed from Mission Control were Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineers Michael Barratt, Tim Kopra, Roman Romanenko, Robert Thirsk of the Canadian Space Agency and Frank De Winne of the European Space Agency.
Following Discovery's docking Sunday night, Stott officially becomes a station crew member when she and Kopra swap places shortly before midnight. Kopra will return home aboard Discovery after a month and a half aboard the station.
Shortly after reaching orbit, Discovery's crew began procedures to ensure the spaceship is healthy for on-orbit operations and is scheduled to open the payload bay doors at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday.
The crew's launch day ends with a thorough checkout of the robotic arm and survey of the payload bay before heading to bed about 5:30 a.m. Saturday.
Following wakeup at 1:29 p.m. Saturday, the crew will spend the majority of the day assessing the health of Discovery's wing leading edge panels and nosecap using the boom/sensor extension and checking out the spacesuits to be worn during three planned spacewalks later in the mission. The crew also will test rendezvous tools and prepare the docking system ahead of arrival at the station.
Discovery's mission is the 128th in shuttle program history and the 30th dedicated to station assembly, resupply and maintenance.
The next shuttle status report will be issued after crew wakeup - earlier if warranted.
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