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Discovery's 33rd Launch

Photo from NASA.gov Last night at 11 p.m. (EST), NASA began the countdown towards the launch of the Discovery space shuttle, its 33rd mission (find information on earlier missions in the Almanac's Memorable Moments in Human Space Flight section p.314-317). Due to launch at 9:35 p.m. (EST) Thursday, the STS-116 mission will be delivering and installing new pieces of the International Space Station including the $11 million, 4,000-pound P5 integrated truss segment. They will also be dropping off flight engineer Sunita Williams to replace Thomas Reiter as the third member of ISS’ Expedition 14.
Included in Discovery’s seven person crew is Sweden’s first astronaut, Christer Fuglesang. (Välkommen till världsrymd Christer!)
Extra cool bonus fact: that flood of water unleashed seconds before a shuttle’s launch isn’t meant to keep things cool. The water actually breaks up acoustic waves so they don’t damage the shuttle.

NASA will be blogging the launch starting at 3:30 on Thursday.
Or watch the whole thing in streaming video here.
Crew photo from NASA.gov


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