MINOTAUR 5’S DAZZLING NIGHTTIME LAUNCH IN PHOTOS
Observers up and down the U.S. East coast got a spectacular light show Friday night as NASA’s LADEE moon mission rocketed into space from Virginia aboard a Minotaur 5 rocket. We present photos of the launch submitted from readers and imagery captured by remote cameras near the launch pad.
VIEWS FROM NEW YORK CITY:
REMOTE LAUNCH PAD CAMERAS:
The rollout of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes spacecraft began on schedule at 8 a.m. EDT, reaching the pad at Space Launch Complex-41 at 8:35 a.m. Preparations are beginning to fuel the rocket’s first stage with about 25,000 gallons of RP-1, a highly refined kerosene. The fueling operation is scheduled to begin at noon and takes 45 minutes to complete.
The launch weather forecast has improved to only a 30 percent chance of not meeting the weather criteria for liftoff at 4:07 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24. Scattered clouds are forecast, with a temperature at launch time near 78 degrees and a light southwest wind. Tropical Storm Isaac will not be a factor if launch occurs on Friday or Saturday.
Space shuttle Discovery touched down on Runway 15 at KSC’s Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) just before noon today, completing the 13-day STS-133 mission to the International Space Station. Main gear touchdown was at 11:57:17 a.m., followed by nose gear touchdown at 11:57:28, and wheelstop at 11:58:14 a.m.
Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Eric Boe, and Mission Specialists Nicole Stott, Michael Barratt, Alvin Drew and Steve Bowen delivered the Permanent Multipurpose Module, packed with supplies and critical spare parts, as well as Robonaut 2, the dexterous humanoid astronaut helper, to the orbiting outpost.
STS-133 was the 39th and final flight for Discovery, which has spent 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.
Space shuttle Discovery was secured on Launch Pad 39A at 1:49 a.m. The shuttle’s trek, known as rollout, from KSC’s Vehicle Assembly Building to the launch pad began yesterday at 7:23 p.m., and took about six hours to complete. About 1,200 employees, and their families and friends, attended the move until the shuttle, its external fuel tank, twin solid rocket boosters, mobile launcher platform and crawler-transporter were no longer visible in the bright xenon lights.
Discovery is set to carry the Permanent Multipurpose Module packed with supplies and critical spare parts, as well as Robonaut 2, to the International Space Station during the STS-133 mission. Launch is targeted for Monday, Nov. 1, at 4:40 p.m.
Rollout sets the stage for the STS-133 crew to practice countdown and launch procedures during the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test in mid-October.