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Space Shuttle Endeavour Prepares for Night Launch

The U.S. space agency NASA is counting down toward a nighttime launch of the space shuttle Endeavour on a 16-day mission to the International Space Station.

The shuttle is scheduled to launch early Tuesday morning with seven astronauts and some high-tech freight on board.

Endeavour will deliver the first module of a Japanese space laboratory and a Canadian robot designed to handle some of the jobs performed by spacewalking astronauts.

The Japanese lab is called Kibo, a Japanese word for hope. If shuttle flights go according to schedule, its final module should be delivered next year to the space station.

The Canadian robot, called Dextre, can be operated by the crew inside the station or by flight controllers on the ground.

Astronauts intend to perform five spacewalks during their stay at the space station. The 16-day mission will be the longest shuttle mission to the space station to date.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.