Friday, February 25, 2011

Discovery---a personal story.

         This is a personal story of me--a spacebuff--and space shuttle Discovery.

        At. 1.30 a.m on Friday, ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)'' awoke to watch the final launch of space shuttle, ``Discovery,'' on Nasa TV

       What happened?  Though the net was functioning and all other sites could be accessed, the home page of Nasa remained inaccessible. Each time BMM tried to open it, there was a message saying that the page cannot be opened for some technical reason. What did it mean? Nasa TV was out my reach. What a helluva disappointment. BMM had waited for this moment and what a terrible let down! BMM was terribly frustrated.

       This was something inexplicable because about four hours earlier, BMM was glued to the computer watching the docking of ``Johannes Kepler,---the second Automated Transfer Vehicle of the European Space Agency---to the International Space Station on Nasa TV. There was absolutely no problem. Why should Nasa go out of reach four hours later?

       BMM then tried to activitate the TV and tune on to CNN in the hope that it could see Discovery's  lift off. But, even this did not function!!!!  Discovery your luck is a bit strange!  Efforts to watch the unfolding drama at the Kennedy Space Centre through UStream also proved unsuccessful. This was supposedly showing the balloon experiment by some students. The balloon carried a camera which was capturing the lift off from a certain height.

       BMM reconciled to the situation, decactivated the computer and TV and once again hit the sack. In the morning , BMM received news on its e mail that the launch was successful. But, the Nasa site still could not be opened. This means that nearly 15 hours after the launch, BMM has only scrappy info about the launch.

       The story does not end here. BMM tried its luck with Youtube, but no luck either. Each time the highly interesting was opened, there was a message on the video screen saying that a flash player needs to be downloaded. Luck ran out again! This was not the case on Thursday.

       Now a computer engineer is once again on his way to find out what went wrong----not with the mission, of course, but with my computer!

       Anyway congrats Discovery. You finally made it Now my computer is behaving the way you did three months ago!.

       The main role of this mission is to deliver to the space station the Italian-built Permanent Multipurpose Module, the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and Robonauts 2. The module will provide additional storage for the station crew and experiments can also be conducted inside it. Robonaut-2 is the first human-like robot in space to become a permanent resident of the space station.

        Commanded by Steve Lindsay, the flight will witness two spacewalks.

        This was its last take off and when it touches down on March 7,2011, it will pass into history--the first space shuttle to be formally retired. It made its maiden flight on August 30,1984 and so far has flown 142,917,534 miles and spent a total of 361 days, 8441 hours, 50 minutes and 41 seconds in space, according to Nasa.

         It has completed 5528 orbits in 38 flights and carried a total of 246 crew members. It has docked with the space station 12 times.

         Some of its key milestones include returning to flight after the Challenger and Columbia disaster, launching the Hubble Space Telescope, first to rendevous with the Russian space station, Mir and the first to carry a Russian cosmonaut.

         In a way Discovery has some significance for us in India, because the Hubble Space Telescope which it launched confirmed Chandrayaan-1's discovery of water on the moon in January 2011..

         Discovery, we will always remember you though you proved to be a little troublesome towards the end of your majestic carrier.




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