Monday, May 16, 2011

Flight crew departs to board shuttle Endeavour

The Astro Van departs for shuttle Endeavour with her crew. (NASA)

The six man crew of the space shuttle Endeavour just departed their crew quarters at the Kennedy Space Center's industrial complex for the ten mile trip out to their spacecraft.

Waving to cheering guests and space center employees, the six astronauts were all smiles as they boarded the silver van, followed by a green armored vehicle and SWAT team members.

Minutes before the crew departed, and as the countdown clock passed under the T-3 hour mark, NASA updated the weather forecast to very favorable with a 70% chance of good weather at launch time.

Launch remains on track for today at 8:56:28 a.m. EDT, from launch complex 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Mission specialist Col. Mike Fincke stated at 4:15 a.m. EDT, "Dear God, please bless our crew. Help us in our mission and to return safely home. Please help me not to mess anything up".

A few minutes later, Endeavour's commander Mark Kelly and pilot Gregory Johnson received a final weather briefing before heading to suit-up.

Mission specialists Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency round out the crew.

The crew will begin boarding Endeavour at 5:41 a.m., and the spacecraft's hatch should be closed at just before 7:00 a.m.

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