Discovery is scheduled for lift-off tomorrow. It will be the first shuttle mission since the Columbia crash on February 1, 2003.
"Besides their individual stories, each crewmember also brings their own responsibilities and skill-set to the mission. As taxing as the flight will be physically and mentally, the greatest burden -- for the astronauts and their families -- may be psychological, as they lift off knowing that the most recent shuttle crew didn't return alive.
'There [are] going to be times up in orbit that we're going to think about it, and especially the Columbia crew and families,' said James Kelly, pilot of the Discovery mission.
'Until our wheels [hit] down, that heightened level of awareness for our families and the people around us is going to be the same as it is for the ascent. There are going to be a lot of fingernails bitten off.'
...Columbia's demise made crystal clear the perils of space travel. But even with that tragedy fresh in their minds, the Discovery crew nonetheless is raring to go."