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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Life + Arts

NASA takes off for a new mission

The space shuttle Discovery took off for the Kennedy Space center earlier this month for its important mission to bring supplies to the International Space Station. | NASA

On April 5, NASA launched the space shuttle Discovery, one of the final space shuttle flights. All went well as the shuttle launched precisely on schedule at 5:21 a.m.

However, there was one minor glitch.

Half an hour before takeoff, in the Air Force system, it released signals of self-destruct, but that soon came to a halt. In no time, the backup line was used and afterwards everything proceeded smoothly.

As the shuttle launch is quite a notable and memorable event, plenty of people from the surrounding area, including holidayers and reporters, gathered around to watch the shuttle take off.

Once the takeoff took place, according to the shuttle’s audience, you could clearly see the flames of the shuttle in the morning sky.

Apart from the watchers and the takeoff itself, the Discovery STS-131 is a highly important mission. Because it is one of the space shuttle’s closing missions, the high priority placed on this was to upgrade and bring new supplies to the International Space Station in order to prepare for the end of the space shuttle.

The Discovery crew will also conduct three spacewalks in order to further successfully maintain the International Space Station structure.

Another consequence of the space shuttle’s end is that NASA will no longer send manned spaceflights from the United States for a while. In the meantime, NASA will rely on its partners overseas.

NASA’s astronauts will be sent to foreign countries, including Russia and Japan, which NASA works closely with in the astronomical sciences.

For instance, this turned out to be the case for astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson. In order for Dyson to help at the ISS, NASA paid the Russian Space Agency for a spot on the Russian Soyuz.

This will also be the first time in space history where you will see the most women at the ISS in Low Earth Orbit.

There are three aboard the Discovery and another already working in the ISS, which makes a total of four women. Once the astronauts reach the ISS, they will be greeted by their coworkers from Japan and Russia’s space agencies.  Together, there will be a total of 13 astronauts.

Since the Discovery’s successful lift off in space to the space station, the crew has met up with the other astronauts at the ISS. The astronauts have completed one spacewalk, and its sole purpose was to change the ammonia tank, which keeps the ISS cool and stable.However, once the new ammonia tank was attached, a new critical problem arose: The nitrogen valve got stuck.

With the valve being clogged, the ISS stands with a huge threat. If there is no nitrogen to pressurize the ammonia, many of the electronics in the ISS will have to be shut down.

For now though, the ISS is being cooled an alternate way, but it will not last for long. NASA said that the problem will eventually be fixed.

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