Monday, January 18, 2010

Tranquility delivered to KSC launch pad

The newest International Space Station module is nearly in position for flight after Kennedy Space Center workers delivered it to launch pad 39A overnight.

The operation preceded today's planned arrival at KSC of the six-person crew scheduled to launch Feb. 7 aboard Endeavour, in town for several days of pre-flight training.

The module, tucked inside a 65-foot long canister, arrived at the pad around 3 a.m. It has been hoisted into the air next to the pad's rotating gantry, which was rolled back from Endeavour over the weekend.

Later today, Tranquility -- also known as Node 3 -- will be inserted into the gantry's Payload Changeout Room, an environmentally controlled chamber that mirrors an orbiter's payload bay. From there, it will be installed in Endeavour.

The Italian-built module will house life support equipment and serve as a robotics station with its attached cupola offering panoramic views of space through seven windows.

The crew for the mission dubbed STS-130 is due to fly into KSC in T-38 training jets around 6 p.m.

The crew is led by mission commander George Zamka, a 47-year-old Marine Corps colonel, and piloted by 41-year-old first-time flyer Terry Virts.

The mission specialists are Robert Behnken, 39; Kathryn Hire, 50; Nicholas Patrick, 45; and Stephen Robinson, 44.

Hire in 1998 became the first former KSC employee selected as an astronaut to fly in space.

The crew will participate in countdown and emergency pad escape training Tuesday through Thursday, planning to depart Florida on Friday.

IMAGE NOTE: Above, at Kennedy Space Center, a canister containing the payload for space shuttle Endeavour was lifted up to the payload changeout room at launch pad 39A overnight. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller. Below, a live KSC video feed of launch pad 39A, showing the lifted payload canister.

No comments: