2 p.m. CDT, Thursday, May 20, 1999
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

As the International Space Station celebrates its 6-month anniversary today, flight controllers in Houston and Moscow ready both the station and shuttle for the first visit to the outpost of the year scheduled to begin with launch of Discovery in the early morning of May 27.

With repairs complete on the orbiter's hail-damaged external fuel tank, the shuttle was moved back to the launch pad this morning for the final week of processing leading to its launch scheduled for 6:48 a.m. Eastern time next Thursday carrying logisitics and supplies that eventually will be used by the first crew to live on the ISS.

With an on-time launch May 27, Discovery's commander will dock the orbiter to the Unity end of the ISS at 12:24 a.m. EDT on May 29. Undocking five days later on June 3 is planned for late afternoon east coast time.

Preparations for Discovery's arrival call for the flight controllers to uplink commands beginning Monday night that will turn on heaters strategically placed around the station to slowly warm the interior volume prior to docking and the crew climbing on board to begin transfer operations.

Meanwhile, as Discovery was slowly rolled back to the launch pad, half way around the world in Kazakhstan the Service Module has arrived by train for the final months of its processing for launch atop a Proton booster like the rocket that launched the Zarya control module six months ago.

Currently going by the working title of Zvezda (Star in English), the Service Module will complete its testing at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in the same checkout area as Zarya prior to being loaded in the Proton for launch scheduled for the fall. It provides the living quarters, for the first crew scheduled to arrive on a Soyuz rocket early next year.

When Discovery arrives at the station, it will be carrying 3,600 pounds of supplies and hardware. Updates on the status of its launch preparations are available on the Internet at:

The International Space Station is in an orbit with a high point of 251 statute miles and a low point of 237 statute miles, circling the Earth once approximately every 92 minutes. The Station has completed more than 2,826 orbits of Earth since its launch. As it passes overhead at dawn or dusk, the station is easily visible from the ground, and it will become even brighter once Discovery has docked.

Space Station viewing opportunities for locations worldwide are available on the Internet at:

The next International Space Station status will be contained in the STS-96 Mission Control Center reports issued twice daily throughout Discovery's flight. ISS reports will resume being issued weekly each Thursday following the shuttle mission.

Note: For further information, please contact the NASA Public Affairs Office at the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, 281-483-5111.


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