Nasa's Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-119) will blast off today from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:20 p.m. PST on a 14-day mission to complete International Space Station.
The STS-119 mission, which is also known as International Space Station Assembly Flight 15A, is the 28th mission to the station with a primary objective to deliver the final set of solar array wings and truss element that are needed to complete the station’s electricity-generating system.
According to the agency, the discovery will fly one heat shield tile underneath its left wing that will have a bump raised 0.25 inches so that heating effects are monitored at during reentry. This information will support computer modeling and design efforts for the shuttle and NASA’s next-generation spacecraft.
Air Force Col. Lee Archambault will lead the 6 more crew of STS-119. He has overall responsibility for the execution of the mission, orbiter systems operations and flight operations, including landing. Mission specialists also include Joseph Acaba, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, John Phillips, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.
The mission that will last for 2 weeks featuring four spacewalks to help install the S6 truss segment to the starboard, or right, side of the station and the deployment of its solar arrays. The truss is a high-tech girder structure made up of 11 segments providing backbone for the station that support U.S. solar arrays, radiators and other equipment. The flight also will replace a failed 'Urine Processing Assembly' a system that removes impurities from urine in an early stage of the recycling process that converts urine to potable water
The shuttle also will drop off Astronaut Koichi Wakata and bring back a U.S. Astronaut Sandra Magnus after more than three months aboard the orbiting laboratory. Wakata is expected to stay on the space until June.
Discovery is scheduled to return to Earth with a landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida, in the pre-dawn hours, bringing to an end its 36th mission, the 28th shuttle flight to the International Space Station and the 125th flight in shuttle program history.