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Monday, June 09, 2014  

Women make it Big: Three Women Astronauts aboard Discovery Shuttle, One in ISS

"Space is no more a male domain. Women have also stepped to conquer the space as Discovery Shuttle carries three women astronauts this time and one is already aboard the International Space Station."
Mohan Sanjeevan

Discovery space shuttle finally lifted off after postponement for more than two weeks due to winter’s unusual cold weather with 7 astronauts aboard. What makes this launch special is the 3 women in the team of 7. There is already one woman astronaut aboard the International Space Station. That makes a record total of 4 women at the same time in space (ISS).

Japan has its own reasons to celebrate as two astronauts are Japanese – one in the station already and the other in the discovery team.

Only three more space shuttles are slated for launch after this one due to the cut down in spending on space-mission after the Obama administration assumed charge.

NASA’s Moon exploration program has already been cancelled by Obama.

Even though space shuttle launches are grinding to a halt, the International Space Station will continue to orbit around Earth and remain there up to the year 2020.

It is certain that commercial rocket companies will have a go at the pie for ferrying services to the space station thereafter. Right now NASA is using the services of Russia’s Soyuz rockets. That’s how the U.S. astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson got to the space station on Sunday, two days after being launched from Kazakhstan.

Apart from the usual experiments the crew will attend to the replenishing of supplies to International Space Station for over two weeks to ready it last up to the year 2020.  The astronauts will install a fresh ammonia tank for the cooling system — a cumbersome job requiring three spacewalks. They also will drop off science experiments as well as an extra sleeping compartment, a darkroom to improve picture-taking from the lab's high-quality window, and other equipment totaling thousands of pounds.

There are six astronauts already in the space station to be joined by the discovery team of seven. In Toto, 8 Americans, 3 Russians and 2 Japanese will be in the space together.

The shuttle mission’s tenure will coincide with the 29th anniversary of space shuttle’s inaugural flight on April 12, 1981.

A problem surfaced during the launch of the shuttle. Three small pieces of insulating foam flew off Discovery's fuel tank. This was noticed by the NASA officials too late and was considered not an immediate safety concern. The launch went ahead with this minor problem. The astronauts will survey their ship on Tuesday to fix this problem.

Hopefully, the mission will complete its task successfully and come back to earth as scheduled.

(Author is a popular science and science fiction writer. Also the Regional Editor of

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