STS-131 launch – a personal view

Discovery (STS-131) sat on the pad at launch pad 39A. Credit: Will Gater

The STS-131 mission is set to launch from the Kennedy Space Center on Monday morning taking science equipment and other supplies to the International Space Station. As I’m writing this the Space Shuttle Discovery is scheduled for a lift-off at 6:21am Florida time (11:21am UK time) with the latest weather forecast for the time of launch looking “very favourable” according to NASA weather officers. As always you’ll be able to watch the launch and build up live on NASA TV via this link.

A view of launch complex 39 from the LC39 observation gantry. Credit: Will Gater

Watching the launch will be a little bittersweet for me. Last month I acted on a lifelong dream and flew out to Florida in an attempt to see the STS-131 Shuttle launch which had been scheduled for 18 March. Unfortunately the stacking of the Orbiter (and thus its launch) was delayed just before I left the UK, meaning that as I landed in Florida I knew I was going to miss seeing the Shuttle fly. Nevertheless I had a wonderful time and came back with a fresh perspective and a renewed sense of awe at what is happening at Cape Canaveral. Come Monday morning I’ll be tuning into NASA TV on the web, joining thousands around the world watching and willing the Shuttle to make that spectacular leap off the launch pad. I may be a little further away from the launch than I had hoped to be, but it certainly won’t mean I’m any less excited.


  1. Well, as we all know now STS-131 is underway. It was spectacular. I watched from the Visitor Complex at KSC. Spent the night. Cold and damp (won’t miss that). One special note, at 6:05am, the ISS came cruising past the space center and passed directly in front of the moon. Then at around 6:21am, the shuttle took off. Was a great time. There are four more launches if you can make it.


  2. I was there too, at Banana River site beside Saturn V, 3.5 miles from launch although seeing only the RSS until the shuttle cleared it. In stands 50 ft away from us was Neil Armstrong. The ISS went right across the Sea of Tranquility. Titusville news showed it missing the Moon entirely. So, we and Neil were aligned that night.

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