WHAT: Space Shuttle Discovery STS-119 launch. Live commentary by retired astronaut, Museum President and CEO, Dr. Bonnie J. Dunbar at The Museum of Flight
WHEN: Wednesday, March 11. Commentary begins at 5:45 p.m. Launch is at 6:20 p.m. PDT. Museum will remain open until 7 p.m.
WHERE:The Museum of Flight's WilliamM.AllenTheater 9404 E. Marginal Way S., Seattle(Exit 158 off I-5)
STS-119 will rendezvous with the International Space Station two days later to deliver and install the station's final set of solar arrays. The STS-119 mission includes four spacewalks, including one devoted to installing the new arrays. The crew includes Commander Lee Archambault, Pilot Tony Antonelli and Mission Specialists Richard Arnold, Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson and Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Wakata will stay aboard the station until the next shuttle mission, STS-127, targeted to launch in June 2009, while astronaut Sandy Magnus, who arrived at station on mission STS-126 almost four months ago, will return home. Wakata will become the first JAXA station crew member. Arnold and Acaba are former middle and high school science teachers.
The new solar arrays are essential to delivering the power requirements needed when the space station crew is increased from three to six later this year. Additional crew members will necessitate more life support equipment such as water processing systems and toilet facilities. The new arrays will also double the amount of power available for scientific research.
Museum visitors are encouraged to come early and see the exhibit Space: Exploring the New Frontier. The exhibit has many shuttle-related artifacts and displays including shuttle landing simulators. The space gallery also has portion of NASA's Mission Control, the only Mars Viking lander on Earth, and a full-size replica of the International Space Station's Destiny Research Laboratory.