Saturday, February 19, 2011

Spaced Out on the Spacecoast

They nickname this part of Florida, the Spacecoast because of NASA. Well, I just found out I am in a prime spot for seeing the next shuttle launch, actually the last blast off of  the Discovery, which first shot into space on August 30, 1984. 

Tentative Schedule:

Date: Feb. 24 
Mission: STS-133 
Launch Vehicle: Space Shuttle Discovery
Launch Site: Kennedy Space Center - Launch Pad 39A 
Launch Time: 4:50 p.m. EST 
STS-133 Description: Space shuttle Discovery will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier-4 (ELC-4), a Permanent Multipurpose Module (PMM) and critical spare components to the International Space Station. 

The shuttle will carry six astronauts and one humanoid robot. One lucky astronaut is a substitute, replacing an astronaut who was in a bicycle crash last month.

That sounds funny, doesn't it?  Missing your trip to outer space because you fell off your bicycle?  Oh I bet that dude is not happy at all!  He was supposed to be the lead Space Walker.

This will represent the end of Discovery's flying career. NASA is retiring the three remaining shuttles this year, leaving orbital trips to private companies so it can focus on interplanetary travel. Until the private sector can take over crew hauls, NASA will have to pay millions of dollars to Russia for astronaut trips to and from the space station.

That's kind of sad.

Last night I saw the world's largest airplane, the Antonov-225, fly overhead at low altitude, presumably headed for Patrick Air Force Base. I was in such awe watching it fly so close above me, that I forgot to run get my camera. The 32 wheels had already dropped down for landing as it flew up above. It was an awesome sight, I am sorry I didn't get a picture of it.

If all goes well on schedule Thursday, puppy dog and I will walk to the coast and watch the Discovery head out on her final voyage.

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