Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Endeavour still targeting Feb. 7 launch to ISS

Shuttle program managers wrapped up a quick flight readiness review today with a recommendation to continue marching toward a 4:39 a.m. Feb. 7 launch of Endeavour.

"We're in really good shape," said Kyle Herring, a NASA spokesman at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The review was expected to extend into Wednesday. But it moved quicker than any since the Columbia accident, primarily because the previous shuttle flight, by Atlantis, experienced so few problems that warranted in-depth discussion.

The next step is an executive-level readiness review Jan. 27 at Kennedy Space Center, when an official launch date will be set.

Today's review did not include International Space Station program managers. But an update on the program's plans to design a new set of ammonia coolant hoses that will be attached to a new station module flown by Endeavour indicated that they are on track for a Feb. 2 delivery to KSC.

One minor technical issue discussed was a continuation from earlier missions, looking at the impact noise vibrations from main engine ignition could have on the rear of the orbiter.

Sensors were placed on the orbiter and launch pad tail service masts for the last launch, and that data is still being analyzed.

Today's review also found that the processing of Discovery, which would serve as the rescue shuttle if Endeavour suffered major damage, is proceeding well.

Endeavour plans to fly a 13-day mission to the station to attach a new room called the Tranquility module, which has a seven-windowed cupola attached to it. Three spacewalks are planned.

The six-person flight crew led by George Zamka is now at KSC in the first of several days of pre-launch training known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test.

They plan to answer questions from reporters at 9:10 a.m. Wednesday, which you can watch live here.

IMAGE NOTE: Space shuttle Endeavour silhouetted against the pre-dawn sky as it rolled out to launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on Jan. 6. Endeavour's STS-130 mission is targeted for launch at 4:39 a.m. EST Feb. 7. Photo credit: NASA/Amanda Diller.

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