Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Endeavour crew excited for Super Sunday launch

Six Endeavour astronauts arrived at Kennedy Space Center tonight to begin final preparations for the year's first shuttle launch, at 4:39 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday.

"It's great to be here at the Cape," mission commander George Zamka said after the crew stepped off a Shuttle Training Aircraft around 10:10 p.m. "We've got Tranquility and Cupola loaded up in the space shuttle Endeavour on pad 39A, and this is the place for us to be."

Zamka was flanked by pilot Terry Virts and mission specialists Bob Behnken, Kay Hire, Nick Patrick and Steve Robinson.

Tranquility is the final major addition to the International Station, a pressurized module that will house life support and exercise equipment. Attached to it is the seven-windowed "cupola," an observation deck and station for robotics work.

Together, the mission's primary payload weighs 13.5 tons in Endeavour's payload bay.

Today's late arrival is still early in the crew's day as the astronauts shift their sleep schedules for the early morning launch.

"Welcome to the STS-130 night shift," Zamka said to open his remarks, referring to the number for the 130th shuttle mission. "It's the only shift we got. If you're working STS-130, it's going to be dark outside."

The mission is the final night launch planned for the remaining five shuttle flights, which are scheduled to end in September.

Before going to bed at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, the crew plans to give a final inspection to a critical set of four coolant hoses (left) that NASA raced to ready for flight after the original set failed preflight pressure tests.

Overnight, launch teams are pressurizing Endeavour's main propulsion system. Final pad preparations and stowage of final cargo items - including the ammonia hoses -- are planned Wednesday.

"Everything with Endeavour sounds like its going very, very well," Zamka said.

NASA's first pre-launch update briefing is scheduled at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Participants include:
- Jeremy Graeber, NASA test director
- Joe Delai, STS-130 payload manager
- Kathy Winters, shuttle weather officer

Click here to open a NASA TV video player and watch the briefing live.

The launch countdown officially starts at 2 a.m. Thursday.

Zamka said the shuttle crew spoke Monday evening with its five counterparts on the space station and both crews were excited for the mission.

"They're doing great, and we're all very excited about meeting up with them, rendezvousing with the space station and getting started on this great project of bringing the Tranquility module to life and putting the cupola in its final position and opening up those shutters and taking a look at the Earth," he said. "Go Endeavour!"

IMAGE NOTE: Above, the Endeavour crew after arriving Tuesday night at Kennedy Space Center. Credit: NASA TV. Below, in the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, the newly arrived replacement high-pressure ammonia jumper hoses to support space shuttle Endeavour's STS-130 mission are positioned along work tables and ready for testing. Endeavour's launch is set for Feb. 7. Photo credit: NASA/Jack Pfaller

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