The launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery has been set for 6:42 a.m. EST
March 8 on a mission to the International Space Station that will make
NASA’s first crew shift change in orbit and carry an Italian-built
Station logistics carrier filled with laboratory experiments and

“This will be the fifth Space Shuttle launch in the past seven months,
and each of those missions has been safe, fully successful and, relative
to their challenge and complexity, almost deceptively smooth,” said
Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore. “That record is a testament
to the excellent work that has been done by all members of the Space
Shuttle and Space Station teams coast to coast. Discovery is ready and
so are we.”

Discovery’s flight, designated Space Shuttle mission STS-102, will be
commanded by Jim Wetherbee. The pilot will be Jim Kelly and Andy Thomas
and Paul Richards will serve as mission specialists. Discovery also will
carry the second expedition crew — Commander Yury Usachev and Flight
Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms — to the International Space

At the end of its almost 12-day flight, Discovery will bring home the
first Station crew, Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and
Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, completing more than four months spent
in orbit aboard the complex. Discovery also will take aloft the first
Station logistics carrier, an Italian-built logistics module named
Leonardo that will be filled with the first major laboratory experiments
as well as key equipment.

Discovery is planned to land March 20 at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla.