Monday, July 06, 2009

Endeavour to Fly on Station Mission Saturday

A third launch attempt for the space shuttle Endeavour is only days away as technicians and the launch team here at the Kennedy Space Center prepare to welcome the flight crew and begin the countdown.

Launch is currently targeted for this Saturday evening, July 11 at 7:39:33 pm EDT - right in the middle of a ten minute launch window.

During the Independence Day holiday, the seven member crew of Endeavour, led by commander Mark L. Polansky, spent a final day at home cooking and relaxing with their families in southern Houston. On Sunday evening, they reported to the Johnson Space Center to begin quarantine time. This will help prevent the chance of a healthy astronaut from getting sick days before launch.

On Tuesday, the crew will depart Houston's Ellington Air Field for the Kennedy Space Center at noon EDT. They should arrive at about 2PM at the shuttle landing facility and then head to the operations and checkout building - their living quarters until their Saturday launch.

The following day - on Wednesday - the launch team will gather in firing room #4 and begin the launch countdown at 10PM at the T-:43 hour mark. The current weather forecast for Saturday on the Space Coast is calling for late day scattered thunderstorms in the area with a temperature of 84 degrees.

Endeavour's crew includes pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists David A. Wolf, Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Timothy Kopra and Julie Payette (Canadian Space Agency).

Once in space following an on time launch, Endeavour will dock with the international space station on Monday evening and begin twelve days of joint docked operations. The crew will perform five spacewalks and install an experiment pallet on the Japanese Kibo module.

This will be Polansky's
first flight as a commander, and his third trip to the space station. Polansky served aboard Atlantis in February 2001 on a mission which delivered the soul of the station - the Destiny laboratory.

Endeavour's 23rd flight will also highlight a crew member rotation as Kopra will replace current station resident Koichi Wakata of Japan, to begin a two month stay as a member of the Expedition 20 crew.

This flight will also mark a return by Canada's Payette to the orbital outpost when she docks this Monday. As a member of Discovery in Spring 1999, her crew were the first to manually dock with the space station when it consisted of a mere two modules.

A third spaceflight veteran making a return to the station is Dave Wolf. He visited in October 2002 aboard Atlantis, and assisted his crew with delivering the Starboard-1 truss segment with solar arrays. He also worked nearly 18 hours outside of the station during three spacewalks. Wolf will perform three spacewalks during this flight as well.

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