NASA managers set Oct. 5 as the launch date for Discovery on a mission that will initiate the heart of construction for the International Space Station (ISS), as the shuttle carries aloft a nine-ton exterior framework and a three-ton docking port to be attached to the complex.
After the traditional Flight Readiness Review at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL, Oct. 5 was selected for the launch of the 100th Shuttle mission, designated STS-92. Discovery is targeted for a 9:38 p.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Pad 39-A at Kennedy during a launch window no longer than five minutes.
The exterior framework, called the Z1 truss, that will be attached to the expanding station will house gyroscopes and communications equipment that will provide future "balance" for the outpost, as well as enhanced voice and television capability. In addition, a conical mating adapter called Pressurized Mating Adapter 3 will be attached, providing an additional shuttle docking port.
"The foundation for the International Space Station has been laid and this mission begins the true station build-up in orbit," Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said. "With multiple space walks planned and multiple components to attach, we're taking the level of complexity up a notch over the past few station construction flights."
Discovery will be commanded by Brian Duffy (Col., USAF). Pam Melroy (Lt. Col., USAF) will serve as pilot. Mission specialists include Leroy Chiao (Ph.D.), Bill McArthur (Col. USA), Jeff Wisoff (Ph.D.), Mike Lopez-Alegria (Cdr., USN) and Koichi Wakata, representing NASDA, the Japanese Space Agency.
During the 11-day mission, Wakata will use the shuttle's robotic arm to attach the framework and mating adapter to the station's Unity module. The other mission specialists will be divided into two space walking teams to conduct four planned space walks to provide electrical and data connectivity between the new components and the existing stationmodules.
Discovery's flight will be the final shuttle mission prior to the launch of the first resident, or Expedition, crew to the ISS, which is currently targeted for Oct. 30 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Discovery's landing is planned for about 4:50 p.m. EDT Oct. 16 at Kennedy.
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