Launch countdown for Discovery

Discovery shuttle ready for lift off
23 October 2007

The countdown to launch of Space Shuttle Discovery continues at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Discovery is due to launch today at 17:38 CEST (15:38 GMT) on flight STS-120, a mission to install the Italian-built Node 2 module on the ISS.

For the latest updates see NASA's Shuttle page

There is currently a 60-percent chance that weather at the launch site will delay today's launch. Weather conditions are expected to improve slightly on Wednesday and Thursday.

The seven STS-120 crew members, including ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli, arrived at Kennedy Space Center on Friday.

STS-120 mission crew walkout
STS-120 mission crew walkout

As well as exchanging a member of the Station's permanent crew, and the challenging operation of repositioning a set of solar arrays, the STS-120 crew is responsible for the safe delivery of the Italian-built Node 2 connecting module - an important step in the continued construction of the International Space Station.

Nespoli's mission has been named 'Esperia' after the Ancient Greek name for the Italian peninsula. During the 14-day mission Nespoli will play a key role as the intravehicular activity (IVA) astronaut for three of the five scheduled spacewalks, including the installation of Node 2. He will also conduct a joint ESA/ASI programme of human physiology and biology experiments, as well as a number of educational activities.

STS-120 crew arrive at KSC
STS-120 crew arrive at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, ahead of the launch

Nespoli's mission stems from six flight opportunities granted to the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for their provision of three pressurised cargo containers (Multi-Purpose Logistics Modules, or MPLMs) to NASA under a bilateral agreement. The close cooperation between ESA and ASI led to the assignment of Nespoli, a member of the European Astronaut Corps, for this ASI flight opportunity.

The countdown to launch of STS-120 and the Esperia Mission can be viewed on NASA TV - coverage starts at 12:30 CEST (10:30 GMT): http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/

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