Shuttle Launch Approaches for Endeavour Crew
NASA reported today that the preparations for space shuttle Endeavour’s launch on Friday are continuing as planned, despite the nasty weather taking its tole on the East Coast. The shuttle launch is to take place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where Commander Mark Kelly and his crew will liftoff to the International Space Station at 3:47 p.m. EDT.
According to NASA, the weather forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions at launch time.
The crew members for space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 mission are Commander Mark Kelly (husband of Congressman Gabrielle Giffords, victim of a shooting rampage January 8, 2011), Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.
Most of the headlines for the mission surround Ms. Giffords’ presence at the launch. Her doctors have cleared her for travel, but shortly after the launch she will return to Houston to resume her rehabilitation.
While Gabrielle Giffords’ attendance is very meaningful to her family and her constituents, the real reason for the shuttle launch is for the crew to embark on a 14-day mission to the Space Station where the Endeavour crew will deliver an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and spare parts.
The NASA website explains what the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is: It is a state-of-the-art, high energy particle physics experiment that will search for clues on what the universe is made of and how it began, the origin of dark matter, antimatter and strangelets, pulsars, blazers and gamma ray bursters.
This will be the final launch for the Space Shuttle Endeavour. After 19 years traveling into space, this will be it’s final mission. Congress authorized the construction of Endeavour back in 1987 to replace the Challenger, which many may recall was lost in a launch accident in 1986.
Photo from Jurvetson via Flickr