Thursday, March 31, 2011

Weather moves Endeavour crew inside to discuss mission

Commander Mark Kelly discusses Endeavour's mission. (NASA)

Severe storms hammering the Florida Space Coast this morning moved the traditional media event with the crew of the next space shuttle flight from the launch pad to an indoor auditorium.

As tornado sirens sounded and rain poured down at the Kennedy Space Center, the six member flight crew for Endeavour's April flight took questions from the media during a twenty minute event.

"Thanks for coming out on this beauty Florida morning," Endeavour's commander Mark Kelly began jokingly from the press auditorium at 8:28 a.m. EDT. "It's good to be here... this is the time where our training meets the processing of our vehicle."

Kelly told the media up front how he wanted the questions to be addressed, "I'd like to keep the questions related to the mission," refering to the overwhelming questions asked recently if his wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will be on hand for her husband's April 19 launch.

Rep. Giffords was seriously wounded with a single gun shot to the head during a January shooting spree at a Tuscon shopping mall as she met with supporters.

"We are pretty hopeful," Kelly addressed as to Giffords ability to make it from her Houston recovery center to the Kennedy Space Center, but Kelly added that the doctors have not given her a medical approval just yet.

Kelly spoke with excitement of the significance Endeavour's prime payload will have on the science community.

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer "will use the unique environment of space to study the universe and its origin by searching for antimatter, dark matter while performing precision measurements of cosmic rays composition and flux," according to AMS scientists.

The mission's commander said, "Within an hour of Greg (Johnson) and Greg (Chamitoff) attaching AMS to the space station, they will begin receiving data" on the ground.

The AMS is intended to operate through 2020 or longer while scientists from fifty-six institutions in sixteen countries perform their own studies and investigations into the cosmic rays in our galaxy.

Endeavour's all veteran space crew is led by Kelly, includes pilot Johnson, and mission specialists Michael Fincke,
Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

Endeavour's mission specialist Finke will become the American with the most time in space on day twelve of Endeavour's flight having lived aboard the space station on two separate six month excursion flights.

Finke will head to earth orbit already having spent 365 days, 21 hours and 32 minutes in space. Endeavour is scheduled to land fourteen days after launch, with a possible one day extension to be discussed following Endeavour's docking to the International Space Station.

Endeavour's all veteran space crew is led by Kelly, and includes pilot Johnson, and mission specialists Fincke, Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

Launch of Endeavour on her twenty-fifth and final space flight is set for April 19 at 7:48:40 p.m.

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