Monday, May 16, 2011

Fueling of shuttle Endeavour underway for launch

NASA's launch team began loading super cold fuels into the space shuttle Endeavour's fuel tank tonight as the space agency prepares for the program's penultimate mission later this morning.

The launch control center, located just 3 miles from Endeavour's launch pad 39-A, began a chill down of the fuel lines which lead into the external fuel tank at 11:36 p.m. EDT, Sunday night at the same time the countdown clock passed the T- 6 hour and counting mark.

Ten minutes later, switches were flipped to begin the slow filling of the liquid hydrogen fuel into the fuel tank. Thirty minutes later, the liquid oxygen fuels began it's slow fill into it's own tank.

In all some 535,000 gallons of fuel will be loaded into the two fuel tanks located in the center rust colored external tank located between the shuttle's twin solid rocket boosters.

Lift-off remains planned for 8:56:28 a.m. today, as Endeavour prepares for the start of her 16 day mission -- her 25th and final space flight.

Later this morning, the six person flight crew will begin suiting up at 4:20 a.m. in their orange partial pressure suits.

The crew will then depart their living quarters at 5:11 a.m. for the astro van and the ten mile ride out to launch pad 39-A where Endeavour will be venting and making noises as if it where alive.

The crew, led by commander Mark Kelly, will then begin boarding at 5:41 a.m. at the 195-foot level of the launch gantry through an access arm leading to the orbiter's D-shaped hatch.

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