Shuttle launches at 1:36 a.m. tonight

By Phil Plait | August 24, 2009 4:27 pm

[UPDATE: The launch has been scrubbed for tonight due to weather. The next launch window opens at 01:05 Tuesday night/Wednesday morning (05:05 GMT).]

NASA logo

I almost forgot to mention: the Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled to launch TONIGHT at 1:36 a.m. Eastern time (05:36 GMT). That’s around my bedtime so I won’t know if I’ll do any live tweeting of it until later, but if I do, you can follow it here. This launch will be to deploy the supply module Leonardo , the last major facility to go on the space station which will contain supplies for the ISS crew. It’ll also bring new astronaut Nicole Stott to the station, as well as the COLBERT treadmill.


Comments (26)

  1. DJA

    Phil- not sure what you mean about the MPLM Leonardo being the “last major facility to go on the space station”. Unless I’m missing something, it rides up in the shuttle and gets attached to ISS. Stuff is unloaded, then junk is put into it. It is then put back in the shuttle bay and returned to Earth.

    The last MPLM (not necessarily Leonardo) is planned to be converted to a “PLM” (the P for permanent) and left on the ISS but that isn’t until next year.

  2. BigBadSis

    If it remains cloudless here in Baltimore, I think we’ll stay up to see it. Since it’s a night launch and it will parallel the east coast, we’ll hopefully see it! Hubby and I will just be dead tired at work tomorrow.

  3. Those of us in DC area or the Eastern Shore may have a chance to see this. You will need a good Eastern horizon and access to NASA TV really helps. Watch the launch, and wait till the shuttle has been up a few minutes and maybe 2 minutes BEFORE MECO (Main Engine Cut Off). Go outside and look to the East. If the sky is clear, you should see a bright dot above the Eastern horizon, moving to the North. It will disappear when MECO happens. The space shuttle is at that point a few hundred miles to the East, and maybe 200 miles up.

    I have seen several night launches to the ISS from my house in NOVA and, if the sky is clear, I catch it every time. It’s easy to see, but of course, you won’t see any detail, just a bright dot moving in the sky.

  4. D’oh! I fixed the text. I was confusing Leonardo with Tranquility, which won’t launch until next year.

  5. John Keller

    There are two modules left. Node 3 aka Tranquility and MRM1, which is a Russian research module.

  6. Patrick

    Wow, they are sending these things up all the time now it seems.

    I wish in my lifetime that we will find a more efficient way to get stuff into space. I hope that some day they will look back on the space shuttle as nothing more than strapping a big rig to a pile of explosives.

  7. Christina Viering
  8. Daniel

    Heja Christer! (Go Christer!)

    This is Christer Fuglesang’s second launch and we’re pretty excited here in Sweden.

  9. Davros

    Damm looks like it will be a no go with rain red flag a cloud cover red flag a pressure red flag

    woot rain just stopped

    and they have cleared the pressure red flag

  10. Levi in NY

    Launch is a no go. It’s official. :(

  11. Naomi

    Aw, typical! If it’s 24 hours, I’ll be at uni at this time tomorrow. *sigh*

  12. Davros

    now set for 1:10 am tomorrow (this is in weird east coast USA time) or 3:10 pm 26th in normal east coast Austrailan time

  13. DrFlimmer

    And for that I got up so early (7:50 am local time, now). And tomorrow it is even earlier. Too bad….

    Btw: Hopefully they will launch the AMS sometimes….

  14. Roen

    2. @BigBadSis Says:
    At least you will have something enjoyable to do while you stay up to the wee hours. Last night I was kept awake half the night due to an AC/DC concert. Why they do this during the workweek I’ll never know. I’ll be half sleeping all day.

  15. Cheyenne

    Dr. Flimmer – Why does the AMS (which is a very cool experiment) need to go to the ISS? From what I have read (and I’m not a doctor/scientist/engineer- just an amateur guy with an interest) this particular experiment would work much better on its own dedicated platform in space.

  16. DrFlimmer

    @ Cheyenne:

    I must say that I don’t know the reason. I could imagine that the experiment is constructed to be lifted by the shuttle and that it could be difficult to fit it into another rocket to place it as a “satallite” in an earth orbit. If this is indeed true, then the shuttle must lift it anyway, and the destination is probably of less importance – so, transport it to the ISS and be happy with it (especially since this would be the safest road for the shuttle crew).
    But, as I said, I don’t know much of the specifications of the AMS, either. I just want to see it up and running, since it is a way cool experiment (and btw quite important) and it is ready to fly for several years, now. It all depends on the money – otherwise it will probably last its life in a museum. A quite expensive gift, I would say. But a good attraction and probably a record-holder: “The most expensive experiment that never happend to run” (could be overshadowed by the LHC – but I have good confidence that those guys at CERN were able to overcome the problems and will be ready to go in November…) ūüėČ

  17. Sean

    Ah, I love watching money burn. We should send up a completely new ISS every year or two, and just blow the old one up completely.

    (Yes, I know about space debris problems, but it would be really cool, and we’d probably learn much more science from the explosions than we’re learning now.)

  18. Cheyenne

    Dr. Flimmer – Thanks for the response. I do hope they get it up there.

    If this experiment can gain us some insight into anti-matter and dark matter it would be very cool indeed.

  19. Nemo

    Scrubbed again… no new date.

  20. Bernd

    I work next to a couple of AMS guys:

    1) AMS has been specifically designed for a Shuttle launch, both in its dimensions and in its acceleration tolerances (unmanned lauchers are rougher on their cargo).

    2) AMS has no power source, it will depend on electricity from the ISS’ power bus.

    So, modifying it for another launcher is pretty much impossible without completely rebuilding it from scratch. Modifying it as a standalone satellite would mean a total redesign – and rebuilding it from scratch. Nobody is prepared to pay for any of this.

  21. DrFlimmer

    Thanks, Bernd! You confirm what I expected.

  22. DrFlimmer

    Btw: Hopefully they launch, tonight. As far as tanking goes, so far, the valve is working as expected (whatever that may mean ūüėČ ).


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