October 31, 2008
Space Shuttle Launch Set For Nov 14
NASA managers completed a review Thursday of space shuttle Endeavour's readiness for flight and selected the official launch date for the STS-126 mission. Commander Chris Ferguson and his six crewmates are scheduled to lift off to the International Space Station at 7:55 p.m. EST on Nov. 14.
Endeavour's STS-126 flight will feature important repair work to the station and prepare it for housing six crew members during long-duration missions. The primary focus of the 15-day flight and its four planned spacewalks is to service the station's two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which allow its solar arrays to track the sun. Endeavour will carry about 32,000 pounds to orbit, including supplies and equipment necessary to double the crew size from three to six members in spring 2009. The new station cargo includes additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet and a resistance exercise device.Endeavour's launch date was announced after the conclusion of Thursday's Flight Readiness Review. During the meeting, top NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems and procedures are ready for flight.
Ferguson will be joined on STS-126 by Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Shane Kimbrough and Sandra Magnus. Magnus will replace space station crew member Greg Chamitoff, who has been aboard the station for more than five months. She will return to Earth during the next shuttle mission, STS-119, targeted to launch in February 2009.
Image Caption: Space shuttle Endeavour stands poised for space soon after being moved to Launch pad 39A for the launch of STS-126. Photo credit: NASA/Troy Cryder
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