Following today's successful launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain said: ”The Space Shuttle is again flying high. Congratulations to the NASA Administrator and to all his staff and contractors who have contributed to this success. The Shuttle is a fundamental tool for assembling and servicing the International Space Station, in which Europe is a partner together with the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada. Columbia was our tragedy, this flight is our success.”
STS-114 Discovery lifted off at 16:39 CEST en route for the International Space Station. This 12-day mission is the first since the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia crew on 1 February 2003.
NASA engineers have worked relentlessly through a troubleshooting plan to address an issue with a liquid hydrogen low-level fuel sensor circuit. The sensor circuit failed a routine pre-launch check during the countdown on 13 July, delaying Discovery's first launch attempt.
Jean-Jacques Dordain added: “The Shuttle will extend the research capabilities of the International Space Station in the near future. We can now discuss the continuation of its assembly and exploitation on solid grounds. The next Shuttle flight to the ISS will have onboard ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter on a long-duration mission, with Christer Fuglesang set to follow in 2006 on an assembly mission”.
On the STS-114 mission, the seven-person Shuttle crew will be delivering several tonnes of supplies for use by the Expedition 11 crew currently onboard the Space Station: Sergei Krikalev and John Phillips. The pressurised cargo is being transported in Discovery’s cargo bay by one of the European-built Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules (Raffaello) developed for NASA by the Italian Space Agency. On arrival, the MPLM will be attached to the Space Station's Unity node, while the crew transfers the supplies onboard. Raffaello will then be returned to ground in the Shuttle’s cargo bay.
Discovery is due to dock with the ISS on 28 July at 13:16 CEST, returning to Earth on 7 August at 11:54.
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ESA Media Relations Division, Paris
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