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US Space Shuttle Endeavor Heads for Space Station


The shuttle Endeavour has launched late Friday on a 15-day mission to visit the International Space Station for repairs and upgrades. VOA's Brian Wagner reports from Miami.

Endeavour blasted into space, carrying more than 6,500 kilograms of equipment and supplies for the International Space Station. The crew of five men and two women took off in a rare evening launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "Three, two, one. Booster ignition, and liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour, preparing our home in space for a larger international family. ... Houston now controlling."

The shuttle's payload includes equipment for two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchenette, exercise machine, as well as a recycling device to turn the astronauts' urine into drinking water.

NASA officials say the additions will double the capacity of the space station, allowing it to handle six astronauts as planned in the future.

The Endeavour mission also is set to include four space walks to repair a joint on one of the station's solar wings.

The shuttle will bring home astronaut Gregory Chamitoff, who is being replaced at the space station by Sandra Magnus.

The Endeavour mission is the first shuttle flight since NASA officials delayed a planned mission of Atlantis to service the Hubble telescope earlier this year. Officials now say the mission is likely to take place in April to replace a scientific computer and other equipment on the space telescope.