News / USA

Space Shuttle Endeavour Set for Last Launch April 29

Mission Commander Mark Kelly climbs from his T-38 jet trainer as he arrives with the crew of space shuttle Endeavour's mission STS-134 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, April 26, 2011
Mission Commander Mark Kelly climbs from his T-38 jet trainer as he arrives with the crew of space shuttle Endeavour's mission STS-134 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, April 26, 2011

NASA says the space shuttle Endeavour's management team voted unanimously Wednesday morning to proceed toward the shuttle's final launch, now set for Friday afternoon (at 3:47 pm EDT).  The U.S. space agency made the launch date official last week after a thorough review of the shuttle's readiness. 

NASA says space shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates will blast off on Endeavour's last mission on April 29.

Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Space Operations, told reporters Tuesday that NASA officials gave the shuttle a clean bill of health.  

"We reviewed everything," said Gerstenmaier. "We spent quite a bit of time talking about all the things, and I think the team was unanimous and we're ready to go fly."

Live streaming of NASA TV:


Free video streaming by Ustream

NASA managers ran extensive tests on an external tank that was damaged during Hurricane Katrina, which struck the U.S. Gulf coast in 2005.  NASA determined the tank is ready for launch, without the same metal support beams that were on the shuttle Discovery's tank.  Those supports, or stringers, cracked while Discovery was on the launch pad, delaying its lift-off by several months.

Gerstenmaier also said engineers added more, tougher tiles to the underside of Endeavour's wings and fuselage for enhanced protection from launch-related debris.

NASA concluded that the shuttle and space station's equipment, as well as support systems and personnel, are ready for the mission.

The primary objective of Endeavour's 14-day journey in Earth orbit is to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer  to the International Space Station.  The spectrometer, or AMS, is a sophisticated detector that will help researchers study the formation of the universe.

"It will allow us to just learn more about dark matter, which makes up a large portion of the universe, which we really don't understand why it's there, or matter that we can't see with classical instruments.  So it was very interesting hearing about AMS," said Gerstenmaier.

The spectrometer will look for elusive evidence of anti-matter by searching for anti-carbon and anti-helium molecules among all discernible particles.

This will be the last mission for Endeavour, and the second-to-last mission for the U.S. shuttle fleet.  NASA is retiring the shuttles in order to focus on developing the next generation of spacecraft that could go beyond low-Earth-orbit.

Many people will be at Kennedy Space Center for this launch, including Commander Kelly's lawmaker wife, Gabrielle Giffords.  The congresswoman from Arizona was wounded when a shooter went on a rampage and killed six people in Tucson, Arizona, in January.  Giffords has been recovering from a gunshot wound to the head at a hospital in Texas, and she has not appeared in public since the attack.

President Barack Obama, along with his wife and daughters, are also set to attend Endeavour's final liftoff.

You May Like

China Announces Corruption Probe into Senior Ex-Leader

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, being probed for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid