Learn about what happens to the Discovery orbiter after the launch on the to its mission near the Hubble.
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Learn About the Mission of the Discovery Part 2/3 At T plus 19 seconds, Houston Center still controls the ascent. The standard roll maneuver is complete and discovery is in a heads down position on course for a 28 and a half degree, 310 nautical mile orbit. The three main engines begin to throttle down to lessen the effects of the dense lower regions of the atmosphere on the orbiter. Discovery is already traveling at 700 miles per hour at an altitude of three miles on a little more than a mile down range from the Kennedy Space Center. At one minute and 40 seconds into the flight, Discovery system now weighs half of what it didn’t lift up having burn half its total weight in propellant. The next step in the launch is the burn out and separation of the orbiter twins solid rocket boosters or SRB’s. The shuttle is now traveling in excess of 1500 miles per hour. The SRB separation goes exactly as planned and speeding at 3500 miles per hour Discovery and her seven astronauts blast into space on the last human space flight of the 20th century. In a nice gesture Commander Curt Brown welcomes pilot Scott Kelly to space, Kelly making his first flight beyond the earth. Eight and a half minutes after the launch, Discovery was in orbit as its crew members began to configure shuttle systems for the planned 8-day mission. One of their first tasks is opening the doors to the pilot bag. One run day re-burn of the reaction control system jet is planned to fine tune Discovery’s path to catch up to the Hubble telescope. That burn having been executed successfully, the astronauts catch up on some sleep before undertaking a busy schedule during the first full day in space for the crew of mission STS 103. Discovery was trailing the Hubble space telescope by about 3700 nautical miles and closing it a right of about 340 nautical miles with each hour and a half long orbit of the earth. The seven Discovery astronauts began a day of preparation gearing up for the rendezvous in capture plan for the following day of the Hubble space telescope or HST. Preparations also began for the three maintenance space works that would follow later in the week. At about 1 p.m., European Space Agency astronaut Jean Francois Clervoy powered up discovery’s robotic arm to check its operation. Clervoy surveyed Discovery’s cargo bag using the using television cameras on the arm checking the conditions of the equipment plan for installation on the telescope and the cradle that will hold HST during the space wars. While Clervoy operated the arm, Pilot Commander Steve Smith and mission specialist John Grunsfeld powered up the pilot by HST support equipment. Later, Commander Curt Brown and pilot Scott Kelly checked out the laptop computers navigation aids and flight controls in Discovery’s cockpit that will be use for the next day schedule encounter with HST. Meanwhile on Discovery’s mid deck, Grunsfeld along with European astronaut Claude Nicollier began a check of the four spacesuits onboard. Kevin of course, Discovery was also allowed as part of the space work preparations. This reduces the amount of time the space workers must breathe oxygen as part of the standard protocol to purge nitrogen from the body prior to beginning a space work. Amongst the final activities of the day, the crew filed Discoveries lodge orbital maneuvering system engines to slow the rate at which the shuffle was closing on HST. A second smaller engine firing followed one hour later to further fine tune the shuffle’s approach toward Hubble. Mission control monitors reported Discovery is in excellent condition orbiting earth every 95 minutes and 27 seconds. The high point of Discovery’s orbit is 363 statute miles and the low point is 298 statute miles.