Learn about the launch of the space shuttle Discovery, also known as STS103.
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Learn About the Mission of the Discovery Part 1/3 The Space Shuttle discovery poised for launch at the Kennedy Space Center ready in waiting to catapult seven astronauts into the stratosphere for NASA’s mission STS-103. The mission marks the third visit to the Hubble Space Telescope by space aviators and will include four spacewalks designed to install new equipment and replace old. The STS-103 mission will be commanded by veteran astronaut Curt Brown, a Colonel in the United States Air Force. Brown will be making his sixth voyage in space and the third as commander. Pilot is Scott Kelly, a Lieutenant command with the US Navy. This will be his first flight into space. Interestingly, Kelly has a twin brother Mark who’s also in the astronaut corp. During the mission, Kelly will be responsible for many orbiter systems during launch and landing and will back up Curt Brown during the rendezvous and retrieval of the Hubble Space Telescope. Five Mission Specialists are assigned to the flight. Mission Specialist 1 and pilot commander is Steven Smith. He’s flying on the shuttle for the third time and will team with Grunsfeld on the first and third extra vehicular activities. Grunsfeld, Mission Specialist 3 also will be making his third flight into space. European Space Agency Astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy is Mission Specialist 2 serving as the flight engineer and primary robot arm operator. He’s also making a third flight on the shuttle. Mission Specialist Claude Nicollier from Switzerland is another representative of the European Space Agency. STS-103 will be his fourth mission into space and he will take part on the second and fourth spacewalks will be joined on those walks by Michael Foale who’s making his fifth journey into space. They’re the four space walking astronauts began training for this mission more than a year before, the remaining three crew members were not named until nine months before the launch when the Hubble project called for this earlier than schedule visit to replace the ailing gyroscopes. The training consisted of underwater activity in the Neutral Bouyancy Laboratory near the Johnson Space Center and hands-on training in the Goddard Space Flight Centers 12500 square foot clean room. As was the case with the previous servicing missions, the crew practiced every task it will have to perform during the four schedule spacewalks. More than 150 special tools and crew aids had been developed for the servicing missions and now, the practical climax of all that preparation was at hand. As was the case with previous missions, relatives and friends were on hand to farewell the astronauts as they left crew headquarters on root to the launch pad. The time is the month of December 1999 and these men or the first shuttle crew ever to spend Christmas in orbit. Indeed, their schedule for Christmas day called upon them to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope after three spacewalks have been completed. The efforts of the spacewalk are hopefully having restored the telescope to functional health. STS-103 would be the 27th flight of discovery on the 96th mission in the history of the Space Shuttle program. A short while later, the launch pad camera showed the Shuttle team reaching the orbiter access arm, the 190 foot level of the launched house structure. It’s difficult to imagine their emotion as they farewell the technical assistance with whom they’ve become so close during the months of preparation for this launch. The final moments before take off are now at hand. On the flight deck, Commander Curt Brown is helped into his sit despite his vast experience in space flight, well, perhaps because of it, Brown is well aware of the onerous task ahead. He’s responsible for the mission success and crew safety as well as the ultimate authority for all mission decisions. He will be the prime crew member for the rendezvous and retrieval of the Hubble Space Telescope and the vehicle operation following the telescopes released back into or