On February 24th 2011 at 4:53:24 pm EST the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-133 hurled itself into space for the last time. After a number of delays and engineering issues the rocket was finally cleared for flight, and on a near perfect day with beautiful weather at the launch site the shuttle terminal countdown commenced.
The countdown went to plan with no glitches until just as we were about to come out of the T-9 hold when a 6 amp surge on a bus caused a RSO to go red for launch. RSO is the Range Safety Officer who is part of the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The RSO is responsible for amongst other things the FTS (Flight Termination System) without which a rocket cannot fly.
The RSO has a physical GO/NO-GO switch which has to be thrown to allow the launch to take place. NASA decided to proceed with the countdown until T-5 when they had another hold waiting for the RSO to go green. The launch window for an ISS docking is about 10 minutes with the optimal launch time right in the middle. As the seconds were ticking away it was getting very close to a scrub for the day when with 2 seconds to spare the RSO went green and the countdown continued…
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