Pete visits Kennedy Space Center for liftoff of Space Shuttle Discovery….

Pete saw the liftoff of the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-120 on October 23, 2007 as part of a day long tour of the Kennedy Space Center.

STS-120 crew STS-120 crew insignia
The STS-120 crew members: From the left are astronauts Pamela A. Melroy, STS-120 commander; Daniel M. Tani, Expedition 16 flight engineer; George D. Zamka, STS-120 pilot; Douglas H. Wheelock, Scott E. Parazynski, Stephanie D. Wilson and European Space Agency’s (ESA) Paolo Nespoli of Italy, all mission specialists. Image credit: NASA

ISS Node 2 module.jpg
Discovery‘s STS-120 mission was to deliver this Italian-built module, called Harmony to the International Space Station. Additionally, the crew would perform a total of ten spacewalks to install and repair other parts of the ISS.

In order to get in place to see the launch, Pete had to get to KSC way before dawn.

The Kennedy Space Center was the idea of the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy, whose image is prominently displayed at the entrance.

During some free time, Pete toured the full-sized mock-up shuttle Explorer.

This is a shuttle crew cabin where the commander and pilot control the vehicle during liftoff and landing.

This is a shuttle payload bay, a large compartment where satellites (as shown) are released into space from the orbiter.

Here is Discovery on pad 39A just prior to launch. Pete’s viewing area was from a causeway at KSC, a safe distance of six miles away from the launch pad and its toxic fumes and exhaust.

As soon as Discovery was in space, NASA monitors showed its position in Earth’s orbit.

This photo of the Earth was beamed back from Discovery when it’s payload bay doors were opened to release heat from the orbiter. A portion of the Harmony mode for the ISS can be seen strapped into the compartment.

The California wildfires, as seen from Discovery.

Discovery would rendezvous with the International Space Station two days after launch. (This is an actual photo of the ISS, taken from a live monitor inside a public information/education center at KSC.)

2007 IS THE YEAR OF THE WOMAN FOR SHUTTLE/I.S.S. PROGRAMS When Discovery STS-120 docked with the International Space Station, history was made. It was the first time that both commanders were women. Shown here are Discovery Commander Pamela Melroy(left) with ISS Commander Peggy Whitson.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM! STS-120 suddenly became an even more historic mission, having to repair this urgent damage on one of the ISS solar panels that the astronauts were installing.

STS120 Cufflink locations.jpg
Using makeshift materials, the astronauts would have to make these complicated repairs on a daring spacewalk.

Astronaut Scott Parazynski (shown here on the end of the shuttle’s robotic arm) performed the complicated repairs
, assisted by fellower spacewalking Astronaut Doug Wheelock as well as the crew inside the orbiter. This was said to be the most challenging, dangerous and possibly the most important spacewalk in the history of the shuttle program. Without this successful repair, the tight schedule for the rest of the remaining ISS building project and projected shuttle program retirement in 2010, would not have been able to continue.

STS120President Bush.jpg
Congratulations to the crew of STS-120 were phoned-in from former President George H.W. Bush, and former First Lady Barbara Bush.

STS-120 crew.jpg
The official NASA photo of the STS-120 crew. CLICK ON THE CREW MEMBERS NAME TO SEE THEIR BIOGRAPHY FROM WIKIPEDIA.ORG (left to right) Parazynski, Wheelock, Wilson, Zamka, Melroy, Tani and Nespoli

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