May 4, 2008

Space Shuttle Discovery reaches Launch Pad

On Saturday, US Space Shuttle Discovery reached the Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The launch of Discovery is targeted for May 31.The STS-124 mission will carry the heaviest payload to the International Space Station (ISS) and it will include three spacewalks.The shuttle also will also deliver a new crew member, Greg Chamitoff, and will replace Garrett Reisman, after a three-month mission.

Discovery’s upcoming STS-124 mission is the second of three flights that will carry components to ISS, in order to complete the construction of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. During mission STS-124, shuttle crew members will install Kibo’s large Japanese Pressurized Module, or JPM, and its remote manipulator system, or RMS. The RMS consists of two robotic arms that support operations outside of Kibo. This module will be the station’s largest laboratory and will be the second component of Japan's laboratory complex to fly to the station. The first, the Japanese Experiment Logistics Module, was launched in March on shuttle mission STS-123.

The Kibo pressurized module weighs in at 32,000 pounds. It is so large that the shuttle’s Orbiter Boom Sensor System was left at the station during the last mission. A third and final shuttle mission to complete the space complex will launch an exterior platform for the Kibo laboratory complex that will allow experiments to be exposed to space.


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