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Space Shuttle Discovery successfully launches after a month of delays

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Discovery on the launch pad prior to launch

NASA has successfully launched Space Shuttle Discovery after over a month of delays. Discovery lifted off at 7:43 p.m. (EDT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in the United States after NASA declared the weather to be "100% go for launch".

"The clouds broke up and that's why we were go for launch," stated mission control on NASA TV. A crystal clear blue sky could be seen in Discovery's background about 40 minutes before launch. NASA earlier had made jokes about a small black bat attached to the rear of the external fuel tank delaying launch, but NASA assured it would not be a problem for launch. NASA also said that there was a bat on STS-72 which managed to fly away just before the shuttle launched.

The current scheduled mission, STS-119, is set to fly the Integrated Truss Structure segment ("S" for starboard, the right side of the station, and "6" for its place at the very end of the starboard truss) and install the final set of power-generating solar arrays to the International Space Station. The arrays consist of two 115-foot-long arrays, for a total wing span of 240 feet, including the equipment that connects the two halves and allows them to twist as they track the sun. Altogether, the four sets of arrays can generate 84 to 120 kilowatts of electricity – enough to provide power for more than 40 average homes.

Commander Lee Archambault will lead Discovery's crew of seven, along with Pilot Tony Antonelli, and Mission Specialists Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata.

Discovery's original proposed launch was for July of 2008. Later it was changed to December 4, 2008. The next change scheduled the liftoff date for February 12, 2009. It was then delayed until February 27, but was then delayed indefinitely on February 20 after NASA discovered an issue with the hydrogen control valves.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.