Thomas Reiter arrives at KSC - he will participate in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test with the STS-121 crew

STS-121 crew in practice countdown

15 June 2006

ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter and his fellow STS-121 crewmembers are currently at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), in Florida, taking part in a practice countdown ahead of their mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in July.

The practice countdown, or Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT), is considered a key training exercise both for the astronauts and the KSC launch team. The exercise gives engineers an opportunity to run through the preparations leading up to a Shuttle launch. It also serves as a launch-day dress rehearsal for the astronauts.

The STS-121 mission crew arrived at KSC on Tuesday after a one-day delay due to stormy weather over Florida. On Wednesday the crew visited Launch Pad 39B where Space Shuttle Discovery stands ready for launch. At the top of the launch pad they practiced getting into the slidewire baskets, which would carry the crew away from the pad during an emergency.

On Saturday 17 June, NASA officials are expected to host a news conference following a two-day detailed assessment of the readiness of Space Shuttle Discovery for launch. The meeting is expected to produce a number of key decisions about Discovery's mission, STS-121, including selection of an official launch date. The launch window for Space Shuttle Discovery extends from 1 to 19 July.

Discovery's STS-121 astronauts arrive at KSC to participate in the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test
Thomas Reiter climbs into the slidewire basket on Launch Pad 39B
Thomas Reiter and fellow STS-121 crewmember Stephanie Wilson in front of Launch Pad 39B
STS-121 crew are instructed in the use of the slidewire basket
STS-121 crew train to use the slidewire basket at Launch Pad 39B
STS-121 crew train to use the slidewire basket at Launch Pad 39B
STS-121 crew are shown a fire rescue vehicle at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
Commander Steven Lindsey applies a mission sticker to a fire rescue vehicle at NASA's Kennedy Space Center
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