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NASA targets Aug. 24 for Discovery's STS-128 launch

The Discovery space shuttle, soon after arriving at Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, is to fly to the International Space Station during the STS-128 mission. Photo credit: NASA

WASHINGTON (BNS): The Space Shuttle Program is targeting Discovery's STS-128 launch for Aug. 24 at 1:58 a.m., though the official launch date will not be set until the agency-level Flight Readiness Review is conducted Aug. 18, as reported by a NASA press release.

According to the release, seven astronauts who will fly to the International Space Station aboard space shuttle Discovery began subtle changes in their daily routine to adjust their body clocks for the mission's schedule.

Space shuttle Discovery will carry the Leonardo supply module to the International Space Station during STS-128, including a new crew member for the station, Nicole Stott. Commanded by veteran astronaut Rick "C.J." Sturckow.

The 13-day mission will include three spacewalks to replace experiments outside the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory, and install a new ammonia storage tank and return the used one. Ammonia is used to move excess heat from inside the station to the radiators located outside.

STS-128 will fly the Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill, or COLBERT.

Discovery also will deliver a new crew member and bring back another after almost two months aboard the space station.

The STS-128 mission will take part in crew seat vibration tests that will help engineers on the ground understand how astronauts experience launch. They’ll then use the information to help design the crew seats that will be used in future NASA spacecraft, as per the release.

STS-128 is the 128th space shuttle flight, the 30th to the station, the 37th for Discovery and the fourth in 2009. Six flights to the station remain after STS-128 before the shuttles retire in 2010.

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