STS-133 Launches Tomorrow

For all you NASA fans out there, tomorrow very early in the morning (God, weather, and mission control providing), STS-133 will be launching on an eleven day mission to the ISS to attach a new module to the ISS, perform minor maintenance, and bring supplies to the Station.

They’re also bringing a robot called Robonaut-2 (or R2, for short) to, quoting NASA, “[provide] scientists and engineers on the ground and crews on the station an opportunity to test how humans and human-like robots can work shoulder-to-shoulder in microgravity.” Okay, that’s kind of awesome.  Their press kit goes on to say that this will “help NASA understand robotic capabilities for future deep space missions.”

STS-133 will be the last mission for Space Shuttle Discovery, and one of the last (if not, I think, the last) manned missions that NASA has planned for the future.  The crew of the Discovery is as follows:

Commander: Steven W. Lindsey

Pilot: Eric A. Boe

Mission Specialists: Timothy L. Kopra, Michael R. Barratt, Nicole P. Stott, and Alvin Drew

Every time there’s a shuttle launch, now, I tend to get more and more nostalgic and retrospective. I sometimes get the horrible feeling that an era is ending, with NASA, and I guess it is, but I don’t think that’s the way I should think of it. With any luck, this is actually the start of a new era for NASA, one in which progress is made towards having actual bases on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

I guess it’s better to look forward than to look back.  After all, isn’t that what NASA has always been about?  I mean, they’re testing the capabilities of robots to operate in deep space missions – that’s not only foward thinking, that’s just plain cool. God, I love science.

The launch is scheduled for 1:37 a.m. tomorrow (which is why we’re posting this now), and you can watch the launch on the Kennedy Space Center website.

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