With assistance from The Weather Channel, Space Flight Now and NASA I present our Live Blog of mission STS-133. Thanks to the technological miracle of social networks we can give you multiple sources at once, for a broad view.

Discovery as she leaves the VAB

The Final Launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery!

Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue. Ronald Reagan

Continue to check this page for regular updates, photo’s and historical quotes from our countries space program

Because this is a live up date you will want to read from the bottom up versus top down.

In my lifetime there have been few things that we as Americans could point to and say “That is us. We did this. With it, we achieve greatness.” For my generation there is very little that is more moving, more iconic than the launch of a Orbital Space Shuttle.

For us that day has now closed. What will the future hold? Will it halt here? A victim of lack of courage and financing? Does this door close to not be reopened in my lifetime, but maybe my childrens? Will we speak of this moment fondly to our children and grandchildren. For certain we will look back on this moment. But only time will say how.

There was a demon that lived in the air. They said whoever challenged him would die. Their controls would freeze up, their planes would buffet wildly, and they would disintegrate. The demon lived at Mach 1 on the meter, seven hundred and fifty miles an hour, where the air could no longer move out of the way. He lived behind a barrier through which they said no man could ever pass. They called it the sound barrier. Tom Wolfe, The Right Stuff

Solid Rocket Boosters have separated.

Discovery is now “negative return,” meaning it cannot return to KSC for an emergency landing.

Discovery has launched

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

Others will follow and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind. Richard Nixon

1 minute and counting

15:52 CST T-3 minutes and counting. The load arm has been lifted

The 3 main engines will be ignited 6 seconds before launch. It will take Discovery 8.5 minutes to reach orbit.

15:50 CST Launch is go and all systems green t-minus 4 and counting.

15:49 CST Launch is a Go!

15:47 CST All systems are go except the Eastern Range. 1 min 30 seconds remaining in window

15:47 CST Coming up on the T-5 minute mark. Range saftey just reported no change on their status. Down to the wire…

T-5 minutes and the countdown clock is holding. 2 minutes 48 seconds of hold time available. Clock is now holding

15:45 CST The crew is going through their normal procedures down to the T-5 minute mark. We’ll see what happens.

T-minus 6 min 50 seconds

T-Minus 7 minutes and counting

T-Minus 8 all clear save Range computer

15:42 CST T-minus 9 minutes and counting until lift off. The countdown will resume shortly from T-9 minutes. If the problem cannot be resolved by T-5, there will be another hold

15:42 CST The range safety officer reporter that the range is “no-go.” Teams are working the issue & will soon conduct their poll. Are giving team time to try to fix.

15:40 CST Only problem is this Range Safety computer glitch. Still waiting to see if Air Force can resolve in time. Must come out of hold at 4:48:27 pm EST to launch today w/3 min window. 1 minute and change remaining in the current hold

…we’re at a crossroads. Hard decisions must be made now as we prepare to enter the next century. As William Jennings Bryan said, just before the last turn of the century: “Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved. And to those who may shirk from the challenges ahead, or who doubt our chances of success, let me say this: To this day, the only footprints on the Moon are American footprints. The only flag on the Moon is an American flag. And the know-how that accomplished these feats is American know-how. What Americans dream, Americans can do. And 10 years from now, on the 30th anniversary of this extraordinary and astonishing flight, the way to honor the Apollo astronauts is not by calling them back to Washington for another round of tributes. George Bush

15:37 CST Countdown will continue until T-5 minutes while the Eastern Range works to resolve its central command computer issue. Stand by.

15:35 CST Range is no go at this point due to a problem w their central computer. Issue’s in work. No other technical issues, weather is go. FYI – Range safety deals with monitoring launch vehicles to ensure they are flying as expected and present no hazard to the general public.

15:29 CST Launch Director Mike Leinbach has directed the launch team to continue with their polls as scheduled. Unlike launches in the early years of the shuttle, the launch window for ISS rendezvous missions is very short. Only 10 minute window today.

15:29 CST Potential issue with a range safety computer. Range is currently “no go”. Repair time unknown. Could be a problem.

15:28 Live Video of launch can be viewed here courtesy of NASA

15:27 CST Here are a few things to watch for at and after liftoff. The shuttle’s three main engines (SSMEs) will fire at about T-6 seconds.

15:24 CST Waiting for the final “go”/”no go” polls. 30 minutes to liftoff.

“Within one lifetime, the human race had traveled from the dunes of Kitty Hawk to the dust of another world….From the voyages of Columbus to the Oregon Trail to the journey to the Moon itself: history proves that we have never lost by pressing the limits of our frontiers.” George Bush

15:23 CST Tile issue has been resolved. The Closeout Crew used a small tile repair kit that they keep with them. There is no concern to launch

15:21 CST At liftoff, the space station will be flying 220 miles over South Pacific. Discovery docks Saturday.

15:17 CST “Go” weather across the board!

15:11 CST The launch team is discussing an issue, but it will not be a problem with the countdown. 40 minutes to launch

Steve Lindsey is Discovery’s commander (call sign CDR) and is flying his fifth shuttle flight. Lindsey is a retired USAF Colonel. USAF Col. Eric Boe is Discovery’s pilot (call sign PLT). He has flown one previous shuttle flight. For my Georgia readers Boe received his Masters Degree from Georgia Tech. The four mission specialists are Alvin Drew (2nd shuttle flight), Steve Bowen (3rd), Michael Barratt (1st), and Nicole Stott (2nd).

“– some called it quixotic, impossible — had never been done. But America dreamed it, and America did it. And it began on July 16th, 1969.” George Bush

15:07 CST During the hold teams will conduct polls & give a final “go” or “no-go” decision for launch. Liftoff targeted for 16:50:27 p.m. EST Holds allow the launch team to target a precise time & to provide cushion for certain tasks w/out impacting the overall schedule. The Closeout Crew has finished breaking down the white room and is now leaving the pad. 45 minutes to launch

15:02 CST Latest observation from the shuttle runway has a few clouds at 3,500 feet and 7,000 feet. No ceiling concerns at this time

15:00 The Ascent time line

14:57 CST Closeout crew evaluating a small piece of tile that came loose near Discovery’s crew hatch. Plenty of time left to assess situation. Countdown has entered a 45-minute hold at the T-minus 9 minute mark. Still targeting 4:50pm EST launch. This is to be the final hold.

14:47 CST Countdown has resumed from T-20 minutes and will hold again at T-9 minutes.

“Is our expansive view of America’s future realistic? Are the technical advances we project achievable? Will people accept risks and discomforts to work on other worlds? We believe that the answer to all three questions is “Yes!” Few Americans in the early days of the Air Age ever expected to fly the Atlantic, let alone in jumbo jets or supersonic transports, yet nearly 75,000 people now fly the Atlantic daily. The result of 50 years of cumulative technological progress was impossible to foresee. It is equally difficult for Americans this early in the Space Age to visualize the 21st-century technologies that will enable the average citizen to soar into orbit at low cost, to fly to new worlds beyond Earth, and to work and five on the space frontier in dosed-ecology biospheres using robotically-processed local resources. Continuing technological progress in astronautics, robotics, and dosed-ecology biospherics will make this possible.” Pioneering the Space Frontier 1986

14:44 CST The pad crew is looking at a chipped black tile around Discovery’s hatch. It is rumored to have pulled loose.

Circled area is panel in question

14:41 CST Warm up.

14:36 CST T-20 minutes and holding. One hour and 15 minutes to launch.

14:29 CST Recon flew through a thin band of showers about 35-40 miles from the runway. Only light rain with no convection evident.

14:22 CST Ground Launch Sequencer Main Line is up & running, & will take over all the shuttle’s critical functions at T-9 minutes & counting. Cloud tops are roughly 7,000 feet about 20 miles from the runway to the ESE

“We don’t hide our space program. We don’t keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That’s the way freedom is, and we wouldn’t change it for a minute. We’ll continue our quest in space.” Ronald Regan

14:21 CST Now 90 minutes from launch. No issues of any significance are being reported in the countdown.

14:18 CST T-40 and counting 20 min away from the first built in hold. It will be a 10 minute planned hold.

14:14 CST NASA Reporting favorable weather for the launch

Discovery’s hatch is now closed and latched for flight. Cabin leak checks will be conducted next.

“We’ve grown used to wonders in this century. It’s hard to dazzle us. But for twenty-five years the United States space program has been doing just that. We’ve grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers.” Ronald Reagen

The crew emerging from the elevator, with the orbiter access arm at the top of this picture.

“‘We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it’, said Oliver Wendell Holmes, ‘but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor’. So with man’s epic voyage into space – a voyage the United States of America has led and still shall lead. ” Richard Nixon

The closeout crew is working their checklist to close Discovery’s hatch and break down the white room.

“We explore space not because it is easy, but because it is difficult.” John F Kennedy

One last moment before taking the elevator 195 feet up to the cockpit

T- Minus 2 hours and 40 minutes

The crew suits up for launch

The crew arrive

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This entry was posted on Thursday, February 24th, 2011 at 14:12 and is filed under Culture, History, Tech. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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