Discovery Readied for Launch Pad

With rollout to Launch Pad 39A set for next week, technicians in the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida will continue working today and throughout the weekend on the connections between space shuttle Discovery and its external fuel tank.

The team completed installing the tank's camera, which is used to take images as it falls away from the shuttle after main engine cutoff and the shuttle heads into space.

The STS-131 astronauts are undergoing systems training today at NASA's Ames Research Center in California before heading back to their home base in Houston for the weekend. They will fly to Kennedy next week to participate in the standard prelaunch training called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test.

Discovery is on track to head to the launch pad next Tuesday, beginning its slow roll at 12:01 a.m. EST. Launch is targeted for April 5.

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Blasting Off Into History

NASA's Space Shuttle Program conducted the final test firing of a reusable solid rocket motor Feb. 25 in Promontory, Utah. The flight support motor, or FSM-17, burned for approximately 123 seconds--the same time each reusable solid rocket motor burns during an actual space shuttle launch. Preliminary indications show all test objectives were met. After final test data are analyzed, results for each objective will be published in a NASA report. The test--the 52nd conducted for NASA by ATK Launch Systems, a unit of Alliant Techsystems Inc.--marks the closure of a test program that has spanned more than three decades. The first test was in July 1977. The ATK-built motors have successfully launched the space shuttle into orbit 129 times. Image Credit: NASA

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