STS-133 Delayed Now to December 17, 2010

Santa will be visiting the International Space Station this Christmas on a very high-tech sled if NASA engineers are able to launch the space shuttle Discovery on the STS-133 mission on Friday, December 17, 2010, at 8:51 PM from the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA has bumped space shuttle Discovery’s launch date a few weeks, making a holiday mission likely. The STS-133 mission has been over a month and a half delayed after a series of problems halted the first launch attempt. The latest concerns have been with the cracks found in the large orange external fuel tank.

Ideally, Discovery’s six astronauts will spend 11 days in space through the Christmans, delivering the final major U.S. module to the space station, along with supplies and landing prior to the New Year. The STS-133 mission will be Discovery’s last flight before she is retired, permanently.After this mission, Endeavour is scheduled to fly in late February and Atlantis might make a final flight over the summer. But that schedule assumes Discovery makes it into orbit in December.

The mission would mark the first time since 1999 — and only the fourth time ever — that a U.S. mission was flown over Christmas, not counting the continuous U.S. presence on the space station.


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