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Space Shuttle Launch Coverage: Dawn Breaks Over Discovery

By Susan Poulton

for Breaking Orbit

Fog drifted across the press site as photographers gathered this morning for the routine RSS (Rotating Service Structure) rollback, revealing space shuttle Discovery on the launch pad, ready and waiting for her 6:21am ET lift of early Monday morning. RSS rollback occurred precisely on time at 9:30am ET and took about 30 minutes to complete.

The fog made for a beautiful scene, but could be the only cause for delay tomorrow, as spaceflight meteorologists are predicting 80% good weather for launch with 20% due to concern of fog and low visibility at the launch site in the case of an RTLS abort (Return to Launch Site) where the shuttle would need clear conditions to make an emergency landing at Kennedy Space Center should the unlikely need arise.

STS-131 is a space-station servicing mission that will deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Her seven-member crew includes three women, and with a woman already on board the space station after Tracy Caldwell Dyson arrived this morning in a Soyuz capsule, it will mark the first time four women have been in space at one time.

131-morning.jpg—Image Credit: Susan Poulton

131-morning2.jpg—Image Credit: Susan Poulton

131-shuttle-rss-2.jpg—Image Credit: Susan Poulton

131-shuttle-rss-3.jpg—Image Credit: Susan Poulton

—Susan Poulton works for National Geographic Digital Media and is a self-proclaimed space geek. Since graduating from Space Camp in 1987, she’s been fascinated by all things space and can’t resist sharing this passion with others. A veteran of 12 launches (and over 30 launch attempts), she has attempted to see every space shuttle launch since STS-114 in 2005.

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