Last Flight of Space Shuttle Discovery STS-133
Nasa announced on Friday that Space Shuttle Discovery was ready to launch on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 4:50pm. Sadly, this is the last flight of Discovery.
The Shuttle is already on launch pad 39A and is prepared to leave. The countdown will start on Monday at 3pm.
The crew members on Discovery’s final mission are Commander Steven Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Baratt, Steve Bowen and Nicole Stott. Bowen replaced astronaut Tim Kipra, who was injured in a bicycle accident in January.
Discovery will be making it’s way to the International Space Station where it will deliver and install the Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and provide other important components required by the Space Station. Discovery has been to the Space Station 35 times.
Space Shuttle Discovery is one of three currently operating space shuttles and will be the first of the fleet to be retired after this mission. The other two orbiters are Atlantis and Endeavour. Discovery’s first launch was on August 30, 1984 and up until now has flown 38 missions. It has orbited the Earth 5,628 times, deployed 31 satellites and has docked with the International Space Station 11 times.
Discovery has had several groundbreaking missions. It was the shuttle that launched the Hubble Space Telescope and also performed the second and third Hubble service missions. Discovery was the return to flight orbiter after both the 1986 Challenger disaster and the 2003 Columbia disaster.
STS-133, this final mission, will last 11 days.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s sad to see the end of the shuttle program drawing to a close. These awesome machines have been carrying our dreams into space for 30 years.
Photo Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett