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Dream comes true for Swedish astronaut

Paul O'Mahony · 10 Dec 2006, 02:59

Published: 10 Dec 2006 02:59 GMT+01:00

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All through the day NASA's launch blog counted down the hours and gauged the probability of the space shuttle mission meeting its 8.47 p.m. lift-off slot (2.47 a.m. in Sweden).

At 2.30 p.m. things were looking bleak.

"The forecast for tonight calls for a 70 percent chance of weather preventing launch due to crosswinds and the possibility of showers in the Kennedy Space Center area," according to the launch blog.

Tanking complete at 3.39 p.m. But the winds are still a worry.

At 4 p.m. a question is posed on the launch blog.

"Did You Know? European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang was once a Swedish national Frisbee champion, holding the national title in "maximum time aloft" in 1978. Fuglesang will take one of his personal Frisbees to the International Space Station."

Good news for Frisbees. But will the flying disc make it into space?

"5:31 p.m. - As Christer Fuglesang prepared to enter the orbiter, he held up a sign written in Swedish, his native language, and waved."

A picture of Fuglesang holding the sign makes it to Sweden. It reads "Heja Sverige, Heja Norge, Vive l'Europe." Go Sweden, go Norway, long live Europe.

With just two hours to go before the scheduled launch there is some very good news for the astronauts.

"6:41 p.m. - Welcome news from Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters: With the crosswinds improving and other weather issues having cleared up, the revised forecast calls for only a 30 percent chance of weather prohibiting launch tonight."

The countdown continues. One hour to go and the indications are still positive.

"7:48 p.m. - The weather officer continues to report that we are "green" on all constraints, meaning the weather is still acceptable for liftoff. The countdown is proceeding as expected and we are on target for launch at 8:47:35 p.m."

Just minutes remain to go before the journey to the International Space Station (ISS) can begin.

"8:34 p.m. - Launch Director Mike Leinbach polled his team and launch is "go" all the way. He told Commander Polansky that 48 hours makes all the difference and he wishes them good luck and Godspeed.

Story continues below…

'We're looking forward to lighting up the night sky and rewiring the ISS,' replied Polansky."

All is running smoothly. It is just about time for lift-off.

"8:47 p.m. - Ten... nine... eight... we have a go for main engine start... five... four... three... two... one... booster ignition and liftoff of the Space Shuttle Discovery, lighting up the night-time sky as we continue building the International Space Station."

Christer Fuglesang is on his way to outer space. It's one giant step for Swedenkind.

Paul O'Mahony (paul.omahony@thelocal.com)

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