A photo of the flight crew taken earlier this month. The crew is standing in front of the Shuttle Discovery (with its new lightweight external tank). From left to right, they are Pilot Dominic Gorie; Mission Specialists Franklin Chang-Diaz, Ph.D.; Wendy B. Lawrence and Janet Kavandi, Ph.D.; Mission Commander Charles Precourt; and Mission Specialist Valery Ryumin, with the Russian Space Agency.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA

A New ET! Updated!
News story originally written on June 3, 1998

The shuttle Discovery lifted off yesterday at 6:06 p.m. EDT. This launch featured a new ET. Not a new extra-terrestrial, but a new external tank!

This new ET looks like the old external tanks, but it weighs 7,500 pounds less. The job of an external tank is to fuel the shuttle's 3 engines during take-off. Because the new external tank weighs so much less, the shuttle can carry that much more cargo. This will be especially important when the shuttle begins carrying up pieces for the International Space Station.

During its nine-day mission, Discovery will dock with space station Mir. Here, Andy Thomas will come onboard the shuttle for his ride home to Earth. Thomas has been living on Mir since January.

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