Discovery’s final voyage
I had the opportunity to see the ISS over Southampton yesterday evening (Thursday 24 February 2011) – brilliant (literally)! This evening (Friday) there is a similarly good pass over Southern England, but unfortunately the forecast is cloud and rain. This is especially galling as it’s likely that the shuttle Discovery and the Station will be in formation prior to their docking manoeuvre tomorrow (Saturday). The live online HD coverage of Discovery’s final launch yesterday evening was excellent, courtesy of NASA TV. At the peak time there were about 42,000 viewers sharing the transmission, which makes the quality of the coverage even more amazing. The tension as the launch window approached was very well conveyed, particularly as there was a ‘launch hold’ situation with the range safety computer systems about 20 minutes before the normal launch time of 21.50 GMT. The problem was solved only moments before launch, with Discovery having only 2 minutes of launch window left when it finally left the launch complex. Couldn’t have scripted it better! However, I can imagine the pressure on those engineers responsible for solving the problem during those frantic few pre-launch minutes!
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Graham Swinerd - I hope to use this page to highlight current major events in space and spacececraft.