NASA has announced their preferred launch time for the latest in their string of missions to the International Space Station, and with it has come a lot of acronyms and information that can often be confusing and baffling to the uninitiated.
Countdown will begin at 9pm, on Saturday August the 4th, 2007. The countdown will begin at T-43 hours, which is “Time minus 43 hours”. So their predicted and preferred launch time is for August the 7th, a Tuesday, at 7:02pm, Eastern Daylight Savings time (US). Built in to this time is approximately 27 hours worth of hold time, spread over the entire 43 hour period.
Mission STS-118 will be an eleven day long mission, with a possibility for an added 3 days.
STS stands for Space Transportation System, and this mission will meet that classification by delivering and installing a new truss segment to the ever growing station, as well as a new gyroscope and an external spare parts platform.
The mission will thus require a minimum of 3 spacewalks, with 3 being the amount needed if all the installations go smoothly.
STS-118 will also be testing out a new system built in to the shuttle and space station that will allow the shuttle upon docking to draw added energy reserves to extend the life of its mission. If this system works as it is designed, the mission will be extended an additional 3 days.
U.S. Navy Commander Scott J. Kelly will command the seven-person crew of STS-118. U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col Charles O. Hobaugh will be Endeavour's pilot. Veteran astronauts Richard A. Mastracchio and Dr. Dafydd (Dave) Williams of the Canadian Space Agency will be returning to space for their second missions. Barbara R. Morgan, Tracy E. Caldwell, Ph. D., and Benjamin Alvin Drew round out the crew as mission specialists.
The Endeavor is making its 20th flight in to outer space, clocking up a total of 119 shuttle flights, and the 22nd US flight to the ISS. With the Space Shuttle program ending in almost 3 years (September 2010), NASA are ensuring that they get the most out of their now aging vessels, in a hope to ensure that the International Space Station will be fully operational.
For a full accounting of what takes place in the leadup to a launch, from beginning of countdown to launch itself, check out ‘this’ page for NASA’s full rundown.
Posted by Josh Hill
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