NASA prepares for launch of space shuttle Endeavor mission
The crew will deliver a particle physics detector to the station, which will help researchers study the formation of the universe.
April 26, 2011
Space shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates are scheduled to begin a 14-day mission to the International Space Station with a launch at 3:47 p.m. EDT Friday, April 29, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The STS-134 mission is shuttle Endeavour's final scheduled flight.
At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a sign indicates the number of days to the liftoff of shuttle Endeavour on the STS-134 mission. NASA/Frank Michaux
The launch date was announced April 19 at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined that the shuttle and station's equipment, support systems, and personnel are ready.
The crew will deliver a particle physics detector, known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) to the station. AMS is designed to measure cosmic rays to search for various types of unusual matter, such as dark matter and antimatter. The instrument's experiments will help researchers study the formation of the universe. Endeavour also will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier 3, a platform that carries spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired from service. The mission will feature the last four spacewalks by a shuttle crew. The spacewalkers will do maintenance work, install new components, and perform a complex series of tasks to top off the ammonia in one of the station's photovoltaic thermal control system cooling loops.
The crew consists of Commander Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson, NASA Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Andrew Feustel, and Greg Chamitoff, and European Space Agency Mission Specialist Roberto Vittori. They are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy today, April 26, for final launch preparations.
STS-134 is the 134th shuttle mission, Endeavour's 25th flight, and the 36th shuttle mission to the station.