A stage that needs to ascend

Much has changed since the shuttle last went aloft, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important for the US and for manned flight in general to get it back up a few times before phasing it out for something better and letting private industry take over orbital trucking.

NASA is still hoping to launch Discovery as mission STS-114 on May 15, though it is not at all certain they will hit that date and the launch window closes on June 3. As you might expect the spacewalks planned for this mission focus on feasibility tests of repairing damage during a mission. Also on the task list are delivery of the Raffaello module to the International Space Station and the installation of a digital camera (yes, they were using film) on the underside of the shuttle to snap pictures of the external tank separation. NASA has said that another shuttle could go up as early as June 14 if there was a need for a rescue mission.

Get ready, spacegeeks, live telemetry feeds will soon be coming your way!