SHUTTLE PROCESSING STATUS REPORT: S05-018

NASA’s Space Shuttle fleet is housed and processed at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Fla.

Discovery (OV-103)

Mission: STS-114 – 17th ISS Flight (LF1) – Multi-Purpose Logistics Module
Vehicle: Discovery (OV-103)
Location: Launch Pad 39B
Launch Date: Launch Planning Window July 13 – 31, 2005
Launch Pad: 39B
Crew: Collins, Kelly, Noguchi, Robinson, Thomas, Lawrence and Camarda
Inclination/Orbit Altitude: 51.6 degrees/122 nautical miles

Work continues at Launch Pad 39B in preparation for an External Tank (ET) tanking test scheduled for no earlier than May 19. Engineers and technicians are adding instrumentation to the tank to help troubleshoot two issues that arose during a tanking test on April 14.
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Mekong Delta, Vietnam

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, at the end of the world’s twelfth longest river, as seen by Envisat during a rare almost cloudless day.

Arising in the Himalayas, the Mekong River flows through the territory of six nations on its 4000-kilometre journey to the South China Sea: China, Myanmar (Burma), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Its waters are estimated to support around 90 million people in total.

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GENE CERNAN AWARDED

Apollo 17 Commander Eugene A. Cernan received NASA’s first Ambassador of Exploration Award during a special symposium at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla. The award will remain on display at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

The Ambassador of Exploration Award was announced last July during the 35th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 11 lunar landing. It recognizes the sacrifices and dedication of the Apollo, Gemini and Mercury astronauts. Each astronaut or their surviving families will be presented a lunar sample, part of the 842 pounds of moon rocks and soil returned during the six lunar expeditions from 1969 to 1972. CBS journalist Walter Cronkite also is an honoree.
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GAMMA-RAY BURST

NASA scientists have, for the first time, detected and pinned down the location of a short gamma-ray burst, lasting only 50 milliseconds.

The burst marks the birth of a black hole. The astronomy community is speculating on what may have caused the burst; perhaps a collision of two older black holes or two neutron stars.

Gamma-ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the universe. Bursts lasting more than two seconds have been observed by NASA satellites such as Swift, built to detect and quickly locate the flashes. Short bursts had remained elusive until May 9, when Swift detected the recent flash called GRB 050509B. Swift autonomously locked onto the location, and the satellite focused its onboard telescopes in less than a minute to capture the burst afterglow.
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HIGH ALTITUDE RESEARCH

NASA and student researchers at four universities combined efforts to analyze characteristics of the Earth’s atmosphere from a one-of-a-kind, high-flying laboratory. At the same time, grade school students are conducting science experiments from a unique perspective, 30 miles above Earth on a NASA scientific balloon.

Undergraduate students from Penn State University, State College, Pa.; Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont.; the University of Alabama, Huntsville, Ala.; and Auburn University, Ala., have science experiments on NASA’s new Deep Space Test Bed facility. NASA’s 40 million cubic foot balloon was launched May 9 from Fort Sumner, N.M. The test bed is an aluminum gondola about the size of a standard passenger car.
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