Shuttle Discovery On Its Final Voyage

I watched the final launch of Discovery live last week at work with a couple friends. Here are three videos to celebrate. Two are previous discovery launches: August 2009 (an excellent night launch official video by NASA) and April 5, 2010 (a fun night launch video by a NASA employee observing from 3 miles away). The last is the landing of the August 2009 mission.

Side note: Oh man, you want real drama? A monitor malfunction with (East) Range almost caused this final mission to be delayed for a second time. They had to give a “no-go” during the T-9 minute planned hold. And to get out of that hold on schedule it was agreed by all that Range would work the issue while the clock was going down to T-5 minutes. Then at T-5 min Range still didn’t have a solution, so the launch went into one last hold. The issue here is that the launch window was less than three minutes long, so if the T-5 hold lasted longer than 2.5 minutes (or so) then Discovery would miss its chance to launch! Range had been working the problem for something like 20 minutes up until this point and no solution. But with only about 20 seconds left in the launch window someone on their team managed to pull out a fix, which when the “go” was relayed to HQ, verified by HQ, and then relayed to the clock (which has automated control over the shuttle launch) ended in the launch going forward with less than 12 seconds left in the window!! (Or was it 9 seconds?) WOW, I was getting really nervous.

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