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NASA Space Science

STS-119 Finally Launches Into Space 83

Posted by kdawson
from the third-time's-the-charm dept.
Iddo Genuth writes "After several delays, including twice over the past week, the space shuttle Discovery has finally been launched into space. The spacecraft took off at precisely 7:43 p.m. EDT, embarking on the STS-119 mission, which will provide the International Space Station with the fourth and final set of solar arrays — and which will make the ISS brighter than Venus. The shuttle will also deliver to the ISS its newest crew member, Japan's Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will replace flight engineer Sandra Magnus at the station."
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STS-119 Finally Launches Into Space

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I hope I don't blind myself looking for it
  • Good Luck Boys (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rog-Mahal (1164607) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:49PM (#27205983)
    I hope there will be no footage of blown O-rings or damaged tiles. Shuttles are getting old. On another note, where could one get data on when the ISS will be overhead? I live in North-Eastern America and would love to catch a glimpse.
    • Re:Good Luck Boys (Score:5, Informative)

      by antispam_ben (591349) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:57PM (#27206035) Journal

      This site looks like just what you want:
      http://www.heavens-above.com/ [heavens-above.com]

      • Thanks.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        NASA's satellite sighting page is also very good:

        http://spaceflight1.nasa.gov/realdata/sightings/

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by dwhitaker (1500855)
      Getting old? Shuttles are old - the Discovery alone is 25 years old and the Enterprise first flew in 1977. Hopefully the next generation of spacecraft will be able to last as long (or longer) in a very reliable fashion.
      • by Lurker (1078)

        Getting old? Shuttles are old - the Discovery alone is 25 years old and the Enterprise first flew in 1977. Hopefully the next generation of spacecraft will be able to last as long (or longer) in a very reliable fashion.

        I didn't think the shuttle Enterprise ever actually went into space, am I not remembering correctly?

        • Re:Good Luck Boys (Score:4, Informative)

          by dwhitaker (1500855) on Monday March 16, 2009 @12:13AM (#27206891) Homepage
          You are remembering correctly: it didn't, but it did do atmospheric flights for testing purposes. Also, at one point they were considering outfitting it for space flight after the loss of the Challenger but chose to build Endeavour from leftover parts instead due to cost. With the possibility it had (or has) of being outfitted for space, I think it warrants inclusion when talking about the family of space shuttles for statistical purposes in some categories.
          • Re:Good Luck Boys (Score:4, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 16, 2009 @04:57AM (#27208041)

            It's sitting in the Smithsonian Annex at Dulles on public display.

            The reason they built Endeavour is because Enterprise lacked a number of improvements to the flight design made in building Columbia and the other shuttles. Retrofitting Enterprise would have been more expensive than building Endeavour was.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by GooberToo (74388)

              Not to mention because Enterprise was a prototype which was never intended to fly in space, it is way over built. As such, it is the heaviest shuttle ever created. Because of its weight it could have barely achieved LEO, making it unable to service many of the missions to which the other shuttles currently service.

              In short, making Enterprise space-ready means paying more for less capability than what is achieved with Endeavour.

      • Re:Good Luck Boys (Score:5, Insightful)

        by spacefiddle (620205) <spacefiddle&gmail,com> on Sunday March 15, 2009 @11:52PM (#27206807) Homepage Journal

        At this point i'm hoping there will be a "next generation of spacecraft" in my lifetime.

        where's that... one sec:

        I always knew I'd see the first man on the Moon. I never thought I'd see the last.
        Dr. Jerry Eugene Pournelle

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by GregNorc (801858)

          You are already seeing the next generation [wikipedia.org] of spacecraft.

          Soyuz is a type of craft... not a specific model.

      • Getting old? Shuttles are old - the Discovery alone is 25 years old

        So what? Outside of the consumer products, equipment and vehicles in the real world routinely stay in service for decades.

        • But when a fleet of equipment/vehicles/whathaveyou stays in service for decades, it is usually getting repairs, maintenance, and upgrades to help it stay useful. I know the shuttles are maintained, but the cost of this may be starting to get too high.

          Considering that there have only been 5 shuttles made for spaceflight and 2 of them have been destroyed, I think age is a factor that needs to be considered, even if the two causes for shuttle disasters were not directly related to age.
    • Re:Good Luck Boys (Score:5, Informative)

      by Paul server guy (1128251) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @10:41PM (#27206381) Homepage

      I like http://www.n2yo.com/?s=25544 [n2yo.com]

      http://www.n2yo.com/?s=99999 [n2yo.com]

      and http://www.n2yo.com/passes/?s=33442&tz=GMT-05:00 [n2yo.com] is fun/interesting as well.

      It's fun to have all three up at once, Discovery is right over my head now...

    • by GooberToo (74388)

      I hope there will be no footage of blown O-rings or damaged tiles. Shuttles are getting old.

      I wish people would stop saying this. While technically true its also misleading and surrounded by an endless list of exceptions.

      Simple fact is, the reason the shuttle costs so dang much to send into space after each mission is because so much of it is replaced and refurbished after each flight. Literally every inch of wiring is reviewed. All suspect wear components are replaced. This basically leaves the structure i

      • I'm sorry, but the things have been going for 25+ years in some cases. You can't keep hauling the same hardware into space and expect something not to fail that wasn't anticipated. I get preventative maintenance on my car, that doesn't mean it's going to run for the next 60 years.
        • by GooberToo (74388)

          Your car doesn't see 1/1000 the care and attention airplanes receive on an annual basis. Airplanes don't receive 1/100000 the care the shuttle receives after each flight.

          Get back to me when you fully disassemble your car annually, bore scope the engine, remove the pistons, allowing for cylinder and crank analysis, perform metallurgical analysis of your oil after each change, x-ray your chassis and frame, ensure it is never overloaded, so on and so on. There are many 50-year old planes which are in better sh

          • I dunno, I figure arguing about it here is pointless. I just thought that factors like fatigue would become more of a factor over time. I also think that a piece of technology becoming outdated also has something to do with, well, time. Of course human error has its place, but these machines are, in fact, old. Old in design, perhaps more than old in materials. It's still valid to call it old, and I think it's still a good idea to develop a new orbiter.
          • It also occurs to me that, since the Shuttles complexity is it's downfall, it should be replaced with something simple. There is no need for it to be that complex, and believing so is a byproduct of listening to people who are trying to keep their jobs, or support the monstrous space segment of the aerospace community. It can be done lighter and cheaper, by an order of magnitude. Look at SpaceX or OpenLuna...

  • by stox (131684) on Sunday March 15, 2009 @09:57PM (#27206039) Homepage

    I really liked that line.

  • Can somebody recommend a website or an application which can be used to calculate the fly-over times of the spaceshuttle and/or the ISS from a certain location on this planet? I would love to show a special "star" to my little boy.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    my boyhood dreams of dueling space mecha warriors will come true after all.

    Strangely enough, one of them is a transformer that morphs into something that resembles the old International Space Station...

    "Koichi, this is Sandra."

  • Beautiful launch, and I am very much looking forward to the mission, But what I want to know is why was did CNN and Fox have better/more interesting coverage than NASA TV? (Leave it to NASA to make something as spectacular and awe inspiring as a launch and make it so boring/mundane. I ended up having NASA TV, FOX and CNN all on.

    NASA should kick them a couple bucks (or whatever) and let them do the coverage... We need to get more people interested in Space, and with that boring coverage, you are not going t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by deglr6328 (150198)

      gosh I don't know, maybe NASA's slightly more interested in getting plain facts out instead of hyping every latest piece of new information to maximum sensationalistic mediagasm proportions?

      • by Octorian (14086)

        Point taken. However, from my own experiences trying to watch NASA TV, I think there's really just one simple thing that they could do. This simple thing would go a *long* way towards the channel being watchable and interesting. What is this simple thing?

        Fire the half-asleep drunken hobo who runs their A/V control room, and replace them with someone at least half-way competent!

      • by genner (694963)

        gosh I don't know, maybe NASA's slightly more interested in getting plain facts out instead of hyping every latest piece of new information to maximum sensationalistic mediagasm proportions?

        Since when?

      • by Ilgaz (86384)

        He must have tuned 1 or more hours earlier than actual launch, I did too and man it was really really boring. I didn't want to lose my spot on realserver so I kept it open.

        You don't air any live event like that. They aired the media feed to NASA TV watchers. It was like definition of ''dead air'' for TV broadcast newbies.

        Speaking of the Fox, CNN style broadcasting, there was a guy on NASA TV, trying to explain (why?!) what it means to have 30KW power. Man, it is NASA TV, you don't have to explain 30KW espec

        • by Shakrai (717556)

          If there is a house using 1000 watts of power at idle time

          It's actually not that hard to get there, particularly if you have "luxuries" like a swimming pool or hot tub.

          owner should be given to Greenpeace to get executed.

          Why, because they aren't living the lifestyle that you approve of? What if they are paying extra for wind power or some such?

      • If NASA's is to deliver plain facts to - the American Public - They need to do so in a manner that they can understand, or, perhaps more importantly, /want/ to understand. It's like the difference between a dry textbook or "Popular Science" or "New Scientist" Why are their subscription rates so much higher than your average peer-reviewed journal? (Other than the insane costs - but their are ways to get the same info free/cheap) Simple, the information is presented in an easy to understand way, with enough t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 15, 2009 @11:29PM (#27206675)

    The spacecraft took off at precisely 7:43 p.m. EDT

    Having watched NASA's official feed, I can inform you this is incorrect. The precise time was 7:43:44 EDT.

    • The precise time was 7:43:44 EDT.

      How precise could that time be when the Shuttle takes a second or two to get moving? It's not exactly a quicky off the pad in the way the Saturn V's were.

      • Actually, compared to the Saturn V, the shuttle stack seems to jump off the pad.

        The Saturn V seemed to take an eternity to clear the tower.

        • It's the solid rocket boosters that make the difference. Each SRB provides about 2.8 million pounds of thrust at sea level. 5.6 million pounds of thrust gives quite a kick!
          • by rossdee (243626)

            It also helps that the shuttle system, including boosters and the external tank, is a heck of a lot lighter than a Saturn V.

            • Wow, you're right--I never looked that up. Shuttle masses just over 2,000,000 pounds and Saturn V was just over 3,000,000 pounds. Thanks! Love the space trivia...
              • Fully fueled, the Saturn V weighed about 6 million pounds. Each F-1 in the first stage was about 1.5million pounds of thrust for a total of 7.5million pounds. The Shuttle weighs about 4.5 million pounds fully fueled.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Petrini (49261)

          Actually, compared to the Saturn V, the shuttle stack seems to jump off the pad.

          It doesn't seem to... it does. The shuttle main engines are ignited 6-7 seconds before "0" or launch because they take that long to work up to their working thrust. If you ever see a close up of the orbiter during the final ten seconds, you'll see it rock a little from a slightly leaned-back angle to straight vertical as this happens.

          The solid rocket boosters are bolted to the platform to prevent the shuttle stack from launching (or toppling) while that's happening. Imagine a car -- since this is /. -- s

      • by Jivecat (836356)
        Actually, the Range reports a precise liftoff time down to the millisecond, based on first motion of the vehicle. In this case, it was 7:43:44.074 p.m. EDT according to Spaceflight Now [spaceflightnow.com].
  • ... So is Chuck Norris. Big deal. Call me when it's brighter than the Sun.

  • I'm in Florida and was able to walk into the street to see the launch. Absolutely gorgeous. It happened at sunset so the plume was colored just like clouds would be during a sunset - white, yellow, pink, and orange. Here's a pic of how it looked [flickr.com] (not shot by me, but that's how it looked where I was. Search Flickr for STS 119 for more.) Also, it was a perfectly clear day and you could easily see the boosters for a long time after separation. Thanks for the great show NASA, and good luck spacemen!

    • by caluml (551744)
      Weaving around a bit, wasn't it? Someone should check the pilot's alcohol level - and let them know that flying a shuttle while drunk could be risky.
  • The wife and I stepped out into our driveway and watched the shuttle until it disappeared to the east. We weren't the only ones, about half of the neighborhood was out watching.

    Kind of reminded me of the rocket launches back when I was a kid in South Carolina.

  • Apparently there was a bat hanging on the External Tank when it launched.

    I wonder what happened to it...

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