NASA'S Shuttle Discovery Heads to Station After Predawn Launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Discovery lit up Florida's Space
Coast sky about 45 minutes before sunrise Monday with a 6:21 a.m. EDT
launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The launch began a 13-day
flight to the International Space Station and the second of five
shuttle missions planned for 2010.

Discovery is scheduled to dock to the space station at 3:44 a.m. on
Wednesday, April 7. The shuttle will deliver science experiments,
equipment and supplies to the station. The flight will include three
spacewalks to switch out a gyroscope on the station's truss, or
backbone, install a spare ammonia storage tank, and retrieve a
Japanese experiment from the station's exterior.

Inside the shuttle's cargo bay is the multi-purpose logistics module
Leonardo, a pressurized "moving van" that will be attached to the
station temporarily on April 7 and returned to the shuttle's cargo
bay Thursday, April 15. The module is filled with supplies, new crew
sleeping quarters and science racks that will be transferred to the
station's laboratories. This is the final compliment of laboratory
facilities that will complete the station's overall research

"The crew of STS-131 is really honored to represent the thousands of
dedicated people that make up the entire NASA, JAXA and contractor
workforces," Commander Alan Poindexter said shortly before liftoff.

Poindexter's fellow crew members are Pilot Jim Dutton and Mission
Specialists Rick Mastracchio, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, Stephanie
Wilson, Clay Anderson and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
astronaut Naoko Yamazaki. Dutton, Lindenburger and Yamazaki are
making their first spaceflights. These three astronauts are the last
rookies that will fly aboard the shuttle before its planned

Lindenburger will be the last of three teachers selected as mission
specialists in the 2004 Educator-Astronaut class to fly on the
shuttle. The educational activities on the STS-131 mission will focus
on robotics and promoting careers in science, technology, engineering
and math. For NASA's teacher and student resources and activities
related to robotics, visit:


Discovery's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 8:30
a.m. on Sunday, April 18. The STS-131 mission will be Discovery's
38th flight and the 33rd shuttle mission dedicated to station
assembly and maintenance.

NASA's Web coverage of STS-131 includes mission information, a press
kit, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and
videos. Mission coverage, including the latest NASA TV schedule, is
available on the main space shuttle Web site at:


NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the
mission. NASA Television features live mission events, daily status
news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video,
downlink and schedule information, visit:


Daily news conferences with STS-131 mission managers will take place
at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Johnson will operate a
telephone bridge for media briefings that occur outside of normal
business hours. To use this service, reporters must possess valid
media credentials issued by a NASA center or issued specifically for
the STS-131 mission.

Journalists planning to use the service must contact the Johnson
newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start
of a briefing. Newsroom personnel will verify credentials and
transfer reporters to the phone bridge. Phone bridge capacity is
limited, so it will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Anderson and Yamazaki are sending updates about their training to
their Twitter accounts and plan to tweet from orbit during the
mission. They can be followed at:




Live updates to the NASA News Twitter feed will be added throughout
the shuttle mission and landing. To access the feed, go to the
NASA.gov homepage or visit:


For more information about the space station, visit:


Source: NASA

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