KSC's launch team completed the critical task of loading Shuttle Discovery's external tank with it's flight-load of a half a million gallons of liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants at 2:42 p.m. today. Liftoff of Discovery on Mission STS-103 is set for 8:47 p.m. tonight. Today's launch window is open until 9:29 p.m. eastern time. Weather conditions for today's launch will be monitored closely for thick layered clouds and a chance of rainshowers. Forecasters are saying there is a 20 percent chance for acceptable weather conditions tonight.
The final inspection team will make a routine assessment of all vehicle elements, including the external tank, to look for ice or frost buildup. The team walks up and down the launch tower to make their inspections. Also, the closeout crew will be making final preparations inside Discovery's crew module for the flight crew's arrival.
The STS-103 flight crew was awakened at about 11:00 a.m. today to begin preparing for the launch in their quarters in the Operations and Checkout Building. The crew will depart for Launch Pad 39-B at 5:02 p.m. and arrive at the White room at 5:32 p.m. where they will begin entering the crew module. Once all crew members are seated in the cockpit, Discovery's hatch will be closed at about 6:47 p.m. today.
Mission STS-103 will be highlighted by four spacewalks to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble was launched nearly 10 years ago and has taken several hundred thousand images of celestial objects with 10 times greater clarity than ground-based telescopes.
Discovery will be launched on a 28.5 degree inclination to the equator on a nine-day mission. Today's mission is the 96th launch in the history of the space shuttle program and the 27th launch of the Shuttle Discovery. Landing is planned for Dec. 26 at 6:25 p.m. Eastern time.
Live NASA Television programming begins at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.
From the NASA Kennedy Space Center, this is Lisa Malone.
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