Saturday, February 06, 2010

NASA Preps Endeavour For Propellant-Loading

LIVE IMAGES: The images above are from live video feeds of Launch Complex 39 at Kennedy Space Center, where Endeavour is to launch early Sunday. They will automatically refresh to the most up-to-the-minute image every 30 seconds.

The countdown to the planned launch early Sunday of shuttle Endeavour and six astronauts is continuing without problems at Kennedy Space Center as NASA prepares to start critical propellant-loading operations later tonight.

The 18-story spaceship and its crew remain scheduled for launch at 4:39 a.m. Sunday, the middle of a 10-minute opportunity to put Endeavour and its astronauts on course for a rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station. Meteorologists say there is an 80 percent chance the weather will be acceptable for launch. Check out the Official Launch Forecast from the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron.

NASA aims to start loading more than a half million gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the shuttle's 15-story external tank at 7:14 p.m. You can watch live coverage of the three-hour operation here in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live commentary.

Mission commander George Zamka and his crew will be undergoing final medical checks at that time. The crew includes pilot Terry Virts and mission specialists Kay Hire, Steve Robinson, Nicholas Patrick and Bob Behnken. Hire worked at Kennedy Space Center as a shuttle-processing engineer between 1989 and 1994 and was the first KSC worker to be selected to the astronaut corps. She will be making her second flight into space.

Check out our story on Kay HERE .

The astronauts will suit up for launch about 12:19 a.m. and depart for the launch pad 30 minutes later.

Join us for live launch coverage from the roof of our Florida Today blockhouse at NASA's Launch Complex 39 Press Site here at Kennedy Space Center. We'll go live at 3:55 a.m. Among our guests: NASA astronaut Michael Gernhardt and former NASA astronaut Fred Gregory. Also joining us will be Boeing mechanical engineer Andy Windhausen, who took part in the preparation of the U.S. Tranquility module and the Italian-built Cupola -- Endeavour's prime payload.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden met with the media today at the LC-39 Press Site. Take a look here at a story on the battle he anticipates in Congress over President Obama's new space plan, which is wildly unpopular at Kennedy Space Center. Click HERE.

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