News / USA

    US Space Shuttle Discovery Launched on Final Flight

    Space shuttle Discovery lifts off, February 24, 2011
    Space shuttle Discovery lifts off, February 24, 2011

    The Space Shuttle Discovery is now on its way to the International Space Station after what NASA calls "a picture perfect launch" from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Thursday. This is the last flight of the oldest and most-travelled of the US shuttles. Discovery and its six-member crew is expected to reach the orbiting International Space Station Saturday.

    With thousands of spectators on hand for this last launch of NASA's workhorse shuttle, launch commentator Mike Curie announced the firing of the rockets and the beginning of Discovery's final ascent: "Booster ignition and the final lift off of Discovery, a tribute to the dedication, hard work and pride of America's space shuttle team. The shuttle has cleared the tower."

    A last-minute computer problem almost interfered with the launch, the window for which had shrunk from five minutes to three because of weather conditions at the central Florida Atlantic coast launch site.  Discovery fired its engines for lift off with only two seconds to spare.

    The launch was originally scheduled for November, but the mission was postponed after technicians discovered a leak in the external fuel tank. That led to further inspections in which engineers found cracks in the tank that needed to be repaired.

    This was the 39th launch for Discovery.  Its first mission was in 1984 and it has flown more than any of the other shuttles in NASA's fleet. It is to be permanently retired after this mission and the other two remaining shuttles, Endeavor and Atlantis, will also be retired after missions to be carried out in the coming months.

    On Saturday, Discovery is to arrive at the International Space Station, where it is to deliver a storage module and several tons of equipment and supplies to the orbiting station. Among the items being delivered is a humanoid robot called Robonaut-2, which is to be used for future work in the US laboratory section of the space station. The robot, which consists of a torso, a helmeted head, two arms and fully functional fingers was developed for NASA by General Motors to do routine tasks that will free the humans on board to concentrate on more complex work.

    Discovery will arrive at a space station that is already quite active. Just hours before the Discovery lift off from the Kennedy Space Center, the European Space Agency's ATV-2 cargo ship arrived at the space station with tons of supplies and extra fuel. With the addition of Discovery on Saturday, space craft and robotic arms supplied by all five major international space agencies will be at the orbiting laboratory at the same time.

    NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier says all the various components and vehicles will be involved in what he described as an "international ballet" in space. "This is a very intriguing time in terms of the number of vehicles going to space station and the activities that are occurring on station. This is probably unprecedented in the history of human space flight, the amount of activity to one single destination, all focused around the same thing and all the partners around the world who are essentially working together on these activities,' he said.

    Gerstenmaier says it is possible that the Discovery crew will assist a photo session at the $100-billion space station before their 11-day mission ends next month. NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency are discussing the idea of using a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to circle around the station to take video and photographs of the unprecedented array of vehicles and modules connected together. A decision on that is likely to come towards the end of the current mission.

    You May Like

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora