The space shuttle Discovery has been rolled into position on the launchpad for its final flight, NASA reports.
NASA announced the space shuttle Discovery's final
trip to Launch Pad 39A is complete. Discovery began the 3.4-mile
rollout from Kennedy's Vehicle Assembly Building on Sept. 20 and rolled
into place on the launch pad early Sept. 21, NASA reported.
Discovery's STS-133 mission is targeted to launch to the International
Space Station on Nov. 1 on Discovery's last scheduled flight before it
is retired. Two spacewalks (EVAs) are also scheduled during the flight.
During space shuttle Discovery's final spaceflight, the STS-133
crewmembers will take spare parts to the International Space Station
along with the Express Logistics Carrier-4 (ELC). The ELC is an
unpressurized attached payload project for the ISS that provides
mechanical mounting surfaces, electrical power and command and data
handling services for science experiments on the space station. An ELC
provides scientists with a platform and infrastructure to deploy
experiments in the vacuum of space without requiring a separate
dedicated Earth-orbiting satellite.
The STS-133 crewmembers are Commander Steven Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe
and Mission Specialists Alvin Drew, Michael Barratt, Tim Kopra and
Nicole Stott. This will be the 35th shuttle mission to the station,
NASA reported. The space shuttle is also set to carry SpaceX's
DragonEye (DE) relative navigation sensor on STS-133. The sensor is
expected to be installed two weeks later than planned, following a
laser rod failure during testing. In addition, STS-133 will be carrying
the signatures of more than 500,000 students who are participating in
the 2010 Student Signatures in Space program, which is jointly
sponsored by NASA and Lockheed Martin.
For the first time, the space agency is turning to the public to help choose songs
to wake up the astronauts during the last two scheduled shuttle
missions. Traditionally, friends and family of the crews select the
songs played to wake up the astronauts, but for the last two scheduled
missions, NASA is inviting the public to visit the Wakeup Song Contest
Website to select songs from a list of the top 40 previous wakeup calls
or to submit original tunes for consideration.
The two songs with the most votes from the top 40 list will be played
as crew wakeup calls on the final scheduled flight of space shuttle
Discovery. Discovery's STS-133 mission is targeted to launch on Nov. 1,
according to the space agency. "We're looking forward to hearing which
songs the public wants played for us," said STS-133 Commander Steve
Lindsey. "It's going to be a difficult choice, because there have been
so many great songs played over the years."
As NASA's final two space shuttle launches loom on the not-too-distant
horizon, the fears of many of those who work in the shuttle industry
are coming true: NASA's main space contractor, United Space Alliance
(USA), announced that the company will lay off about 15 percent of its
current space shuttle workforce, effective Oct. 1.
The reduction in force
will affect multiple disciplines and multiple organizations across the
company. It is expected to impact about 800 to 1,000 employees in
Florida, about 300 to 400 employees in Texas, and about 10 in Alabama.
The company said the cuts were necessary "in order to align the
workforce level with the company's space shuttle program operations
contract work scope and current budget."