This morning saw the penultimate voyage of Discovery to the International Space Station. Some tweeters enjoying the ground-shake at Kennedy said Neil Armstrong attended the launch and happily posed with many bystanders for photographs.
There were a few glitches in pre-dawn preparations, and tiny spots of fog loomed, but never posed a serious threat, so the veteran Space Shuttle launched as planned! Another beautiful combustive drama in the darkness!
After this, only one trip remains for each shuttle in the fleet.
Yamazaki, Wilson, and Metcalf-Lindenberger
With the launch of three female crew members on STS-131, a new space record has been set! Three women have flown together before, but this time, they will join a female on the ISS, putting four women in orbit simultaneously.
Ironically, NASA Space Operations didn't realize a record was to be set and had to have it pointed out to them by reporters.
JAXA's Naoko Yamazaki (40), and NASA's Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger (34) and Stephanie Wilson (43) will join astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson (40), who reached the ISS on the Russian Soyuz TMA-18 mission this past week.
The first three ladies will spend 13 days in space, and Dyson is scheduled for a six-month stay aboard the space station as part of Expedition 23.
Dyson, who also flew on STS-118
A few other fun points of trivia...
Metcalf-Lindenburger is the first alumnus of Space Camp to actually go into space! She attended the program at age 14 after being inspired by Krista McAuliffe.
Dyson was the first astronaut to be born after Apollo 11, with her birth coming 25 days after Armstrong stepped on the moon. So far no other Summer of '69 babies in space... (next closest is Karen Nyberg, born in October 1969).
Yamazaki's husband is something of a rarity in Japan, having quit his ISS flight controller's job to support his wife's career and care for their young daughter.
Now that's a real man. Progress, I call it! ;)