Monday, April 5, 2010

Latest Space Shuttle News: Astronauts Head to Launch Pad 39A

Amid cheers and applause from space center workers, the seven STS-131 astronauts walked out of the Operations and Checkout Building that houses their crew quarters at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dressed in their familiar, bright-orange launch-and-entry suits, they waved to the crowd before departing in the silver Astrovan. The trip to Launch Pad 39A takes about 25 minutes.

There are no technical issues in work and weather remains favorable for the 6:21 a.m. EDT launch time.

STS-131 crew departs for the launch pad.
Image above: The STS-131 astronauts walk out of crew quarters to head to the launch pad. Image credit: NASA TV

› Meet the STS-131 Crew

Discovery and Crew Prepare for STS-131 Mission

Commander Alan Poindexter is set to lead the STS-131 mission to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Discovery. Joining Poindexter will be Pilot Jim Dutton and Mission Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Clay Anderson, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Discovery will carry a multi-purpose logistics module filled with science racks for the laboratories aboard the station. The mission has three planned spacewalks, with work to include replacing an ammonia tank assembly, retrieving a Japanese experiment from the station’s exterior, and switching out a rate gyro assembly on the S0 segment of the station’s truss structure.

STS-131 will be the 33rd shuttle mission to the station.