On its last mission to space, the nearly 30-year-old space shuttle Discovery will deliver specialized equipment to the International Space Station.
The Discovery will launch at 4:50 p.m Eastern, on the shuttle's 133rd mission. As of midday, Discovery's fuel tank is loaded and launch preparations were well underway. Meteorologists expect good weather this afternoon for the launch.
The crew, headed by Commander Steve Lindsey, will take the first robotic astronaut, Robonaut2. Robotnaut2 will be the first robot humanoid to go into space and will provide assistance to the crew while on the International Space Station.
I think it will be interesting to get it hooked up and start playing with it, seeing what it can do, Lindsey said. The Discovery crew will leave Robotnaut2 in the space station and it will become a permanent resident.
Discovery will also carry the permanent multipurpose module (PMM) to the ISS. The PMM was converted from the multi-purpose logistics module Leonardo and will provide additional storage for the station crew. It will also house experiments in physics, materials science, biology, and biotechnology.
In addition to delivering the PMM, Commander Lindsey's team will be carry critical spare components and the Express Logistics Carrier 4 to the station. The Express is an external platform that holds large equipment and can only be transported using the unique capability of the structure.
The mission will also feature two space walks for maintenance work and the installation of new components. Each walk will last approximately six hours and will be performed by mission specialists Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen, who was a last minute replacement for the injured Tim Kopra.
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