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May 30, 2008

Shuttle - all systems "go" for launch

Posted: 11:56 AM ET

The launch control team says everything everything is looking good for lift-off of the shuttle Discovery Saturday afternoon at 5:02pm. They are working no issues of note with orbiter, and the weather is looking great - 80% go for launch.

Shuttle Discovery. Source: NASA

Here's a quick look at the milestones of this flight:
-123rd shuttle flight
-35th flight of Discovery
-26th shuttle mission to the ISS
-98th post-Challenger mission
-10th post-Columbia mission
-11 flights (including this one) remaining in the shuttle program

The main goal of this mission is to take up the primary component of the Japanese Kibo laboratory to the station. They will also switch out ISS crew members (Greg Chamitoff goes up, Garrett Reisman comes home), and do some additional troubleshooting of the balky starboard rotary joint that has the solar arrays on that side of the station pretty much in a lock-down position.

All that aside, the headline grabber in this run-up to launch is the broken toilet on the ISS. A replacement part has been rushed to the Kennedy Space Center (in a diplomatic pouch, no less!) and has been stowed in the Discovery's cargo bay for emergency delivery to orbit. Basically the liquid waste collection system on the toilet is not functioning properly, and the astronauts are having to go through a time-consuming manual "flush" procedure multiple times a day. Hopefully, the new part will work and the crew can put this all behind them. In order to equip the station to transition from a three to six person crew, a second potty will be going up to the ISS on the shuttle in the near future.

Miles O'Brien will be reporting live from the Kennedy Space Station in Florida for the launch. He'll be joined by astronaut Doug Wheelock. Please join us!

–Kate Tobin, Senior Producer, CNN Science & Technology

Filed under: International Space Station • NASA

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S Callahan   May 30th, 2008 12:56 pm ET

Kate, just as i was going to mention the 'toliet' i see you acknowledged it....that's a housepersons nightmare! 🙂

Curious, any more blogs telilng of events with Mars/Phionex? Eagerly waiting for some news

SELLMYINVENTORY.COM   May 30th, 2008 4:03 pm ET

Thank you Miles for all the great articles over the years.I have been in Florida for almost 31 years now and the closet i have ever been to the shuttle launch is my front yard in St Lucie County. I have always hoped to see one from the cape,but have only seen it through your pictures and commentary.I appreciate what you have done not only for me but for thousands of people all over the world.


Michael   May 30th, 2008 4:43 pm ET

After being stuck in low earth orbit for over 30 years I will be glad when the last shuttle flies and we can finally focus on the long overdue return to the Moon and eventually Mars. In my opinion we should have returned to the moon years ago and have already landed men on Mars. The most exciting thing about the current manned space flight program is the broken toilet on the ISS.

John in New York   May 30th, 2008 5:28 pm ET

Someone please remind the space shuttle crew to remember to bring the toolbox, and don't forget the phillips screwdriver...It would be a shame if they had to come back for it!

Mike Smitreski   May 31st, 2008 8:51 am ET

Miles, CNN needs to bring back the 'Space' page to their website. The Tech page they have now features internet crap fit only for a particular toilet that comes to mind.
It is sad that with all that is being accomplished on ISS most people zero in on a plumbing problem. Maybe you should run a series on all the experiments and science being done up there!

Michael S. in Jim Thorpe, PA

Doug   May 31st, 2008 10:03 am ET

By the way...the replacement toilet pump was stowed in the Mid-Deck not the Cargo Bay.

Bill Phillips   May 31st, 2008 10:43 am ET

A shuttle launch, and even more so a return, is an awesome sight. Seeing the ISS or shuttle go by at night is a great thrill for anyone I know who has seen them. Robots can do plenty of research on the Moon or Mars while our technology is improving. Remember, over half of our missions to Mars have been failures. There should be no rush to send humans there. We need to build cheaper, more reliable transport to low-earth orbit and maximize our investment there for now.

Casimer Urban Jr   June 5th, 2008 1:51 pm ET

I would like to fly to orbit in a shuttle !!?? But now I have cancer and alone with being poor , Nasa nor President will respond to letters or email !?!!

Ive been running as a write-in Presidential Candidate since 9_1980 !?!!

The other candidates collect money and waste it on execess media , why dont they spend it on helping individual citizens that need it, since their poor meaning they need money not BS !!?.

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