Space shuttle Discovery lifts off, bringing 'hope' to ISS

Updated: 2008-06-01 08:33

The space shuttle Discovery launches from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida May 31, 2008. [Agencies]

The lab's logistics module, which was installed in a temporary location during a shuttle mission in March, will be relocated to Kibo's new science module.

Also inside Discovery's payload bay is a new toilet pump for the ISS to fix its balky toilet.

The new pump and some related parts were rushed in from Russia to the United States just two day before Discovery's launch. NASA shuttle managers have to try to make room in the jam-packed payload bay for the half-meter-long pump.

The commode on the station is acting up recently. For the past week, the two Russian and one American men have had to periodically manually flush the urine side of the Russian-built toilet. The job takes 10 minutes and requires two people, which makes the life up there quite inconveniently.

NASA is also squeezing in the payload bay with a Disney toy, Buzz Lightyear. The action figure popularized with the 1995 movie Toy Stoy, and now aboard space shuttle Discovery, its dream of going "to infinity and beyond" will finally come true.

The toy will fly in zero gravity inside the station for several months as part of NASA's "Toys in Space" initiative.

The crew of the space shuttle Discovery departs crew quarters for the launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida May 31, 2008. From left are Pilot Kenneth Hamm, Ronald Garan, Commander Mark Kelly, Akihiko Hoshide of Japan, Karen Nyberg Gregory Chamitoff and Michael Fossum. [Agencies]

Dicovery's mission is designated as STS-124. During the planned 14-day mission, astronauts will carry out three space walks to assemble Kibo's new module and its robotic arm system.

Space Shuttle Discovery will also deliver a new crew member to the orbital outpost. Mission Specialist Gregory Chamitoff will replace Garrett Reisman, the American who arrived on the station in March and is completing three months as a station flight engineer. Reisman will return to Earth aboard Discovery, and Chamitoff will stay up there for six months as a part of the Expedition 17 space station crew.

This is NASA's third shuttle flight in 2008, the 26th flight to the space station. NASA has about 10 more flights to complete construction of the 100-billion U.S. dollars multinational space station program. It also plans to fly a final servicing call to Hubble Space Telescope, which is scheduled on October 8.

The three active service space shuttles -- Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis -- are set to retire in 2010.

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