Weather Delays Discovery Launch
NASA postponed the Aug. 25 launch of the space shuttle Discovery after a last-minute storm hit the Cape Canaveral area. The space agency rescheduled the launch for Aug. 25 at 1:10 a.m. EDT. Weather for tanking and launch is currently at 70 percent acceptable for the launch.
NASA said current predictions call for three more launch windows within the next four days. With that many launch windows, NASA said there is a 96 percent chance of a successful launch.
Unlike previous missions, which have focused on the ongoing construction of the International Space Station, the Discovery mission is primarily focused on delivering more than seven tons of supplies, science racks and equipment, as well as additional environmental hardware, to sustain six crew members on the orbital outpost.
Commanded by veteran astronaut Rick "C.J." Sturckow, the Discovery crew will deliver refrigerator-size racks full of scientific equipment. When the goods are delivered, NASA says it will be a "quantum leap" in the scientific capability of the orbital laboratory.
"We really are starting to outfit the research capability of the station," said NASA's space station Program Manager Michael Suffredini.
The Discovery's payload includes the Materials Science Research Rack (MSRR-1), the Minus Eighty Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) and the Fluids Integration Rack (FIR).
MSRR-1 will be used for basic materials research related to metals, alloys, polymers, semiconductors, ceramics, crystals and glasses in the microgravity environment. MELFI will be used for long-term storage of experiment samples that are to be returned to Earth for detailed analysis. The FIR is a fluid physics research facility designed to host investigations in areas such as colloids, gels, bubbles, wetting and capillary action, and phase changes, including boiling and cooling.
Discovery's cargo bay also includes the COLBERT (Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill) treadmill, an exercise device named after comedian Stephen Colbert.