Update 4: STS-131 launch video
Update 3: STS-131 another view of launch
Update 2: STS-131 Launch Plume
Update 1: Visit the STS-131 gallery for an extensive collection of photos from the launch.
April 4, 2010 at 10:21:25 UTC, NASA successfully launched the Space Shuttle Discovery on its 38th flight – the 33rd shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Six crew members of STS-131, commanded by NASA astronaut Alan Poindexter (STS-122), will stay in space 13 Days 2 Hours 4 Minutes and land at the Kennedy Space Center on April 18, 12:29 (UTC time). Mission specialists Clayton C. Anderson and Rick Mastracchio will combine for 19.5 hours during 3 planed spacewalks (EVA) on flight days 5, 7 and 9.
As the last round-trip for the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module, this mission will provide the International Space Station with not only some 8 tons of science equipment and cargo, but also one last opportunity to send a large load of cargo back to the ground (Leonardo will be permanently added to the ISS during the STS-133 mission).
Discovery is scheduled to dock with the station on Wednesday, April 7.
STS-131 will be the first spaceflight for the shuttle pilot James P. Dutton, Jr. Veteran astronaut Rick Mastracchio (STS-106, STS-118) will serve as mission specialist 1 on STS-131, marking his third trip to space. Veteran of one long-duration spaceflight, Clayton Anderson will serve as mission specialist 5 for STS-131. He previously flew on STS-117 and STS-120 and served as the ISS crew member of Expedition 15 and Expedition 16. A former teacher, Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger, on her first trip to space, will serve as mission specialist 2. Stephanie Wilson is assigned as mission specialist 3 for STS-131, marking her third spaceflight (STS-121, STS-120). Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Naoko Yamazaki will serve as mission specialist 4 on STS-131, her first spaceflight.
STS-130 will be the second spaceflight also for Nicholas Patrick (STS-116) and Robert Behnken (STS-123). Veteran astronaut Stephen Robinson flew on STS-85 in 1997, STS-95 in 1998 and STS-114 in 2005. He has logged more than 831 hours in space, including more than 20 hours of spacewalking time. He has also held various technical assignments within the Astronaut Office including testing space shuttle control software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory and helping to develop the space station robot arm.
Space shuttle Discovery’s STS-131/19A payload includes the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) and the Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier (LMC).
The next mission to the ISS will be STS-131 (ISS assembly flight ULF4) currently planned to launch on at 18:28 UTC on May 14, 2010. STS-132 is scheduled to carry the Russian Mini-Research Module 1 (MRM 1).
Discovery’s last flight (STS-133) scheduled to launch on September 16, 2010, will, most likely, mark the end of the space shuttle era.