Endeavour set for Saturday launch
'All systems are in excellent shape'
Space shuttle Endeavour is in "excellent shape" to launch tomorrow on its delayed STS-127 mission to the International Space Station.
The 16-day mission will feature five space walks to fit the final components of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo lab. NASA has released a fine "Right Stuff" style snap of the crew tasked with the job, but has inexplicably failed to say who's who. Readers will have to determine for themselves which of these intrepid souls is Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Doug Hurley, Mission Specialists Dave Wolf, Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Tim Kopra and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette from the traditional cheesy crew snap here:
Endeavour is slated to blast off at 7:39pm EDT (23:39 GMT) tomorrow, weather permitting. NASA says the conditions are 40 per cent "go" with "showers, thunderstorms and anvil clouds" expected.
Tim Kopra will replace Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata aboard the orbiting outpost. Wakata arrived at the ISS aboard Discovery on STS-119 mission back in March. ®
Thanks - that makes a lot of sense.
delayed as Endeavour not in such great shape following lightning strike. I think the North Koreans have a vehicle capable of the task
@ Dave Page 2
'Is there a technical reason for the seemingly random launch time? I'm (perhaps naively) assuming that it's not a case of launching at that precise time so they can fly in a perfectly straight line to the docking port on the ISS.'
Pretty much it - the launch window is when the orbital plane of the ISS intersects Kennedy. It's actually a window opening at 19:34 and closing again at 19.44. The Shuttle tries to launch right in the middle of that window to reduce the amount of maneuvering needed to intercept the ISS. There's a similar length window open for each of the next few days.
The Shuttle's launch window is further constrained as NASA tries to launch when the transAtlantic abort sites are in daylight. If the Shuttle has a major failure - such as the loss of two engines before main engine cut-off it doesn't have enough velocity to go once around the Earth and return to the US, and it's going too fast and too high to return to Kennedy, so the plan would be to hop across the Atlantic and land the orbiter at one of several extremely long runways including RAF Fairford, Zaragoza and Keflavik.