Thursday, March 10, 2011

Endeavour Makes Last Trip To Launch Pad

UPDATE: Shuttle Endeavour reached Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A at 3:49 a.m., in advance of what is expected to be its 25th and final flight.
Thousands of KSC workers and their families braved chilly weather and watched the majestic spectacle as Endeavour, mounted atop a mobile launcher platform, was hauled toward the pad by an Apollo-era crawler-transporter.
Running 24 hours late as a result of stormy weather, the rollout came just a day after sistership Discovery landed here at KSC on its 39th and final flight.

Atlantis and four astronauts are scheduled to launch June 28 on the 135th and final shuttle flight.

"It's a time to reflect upon what wonderful spaceships all the space shuttles have been," said Endeavour pilot Gregory "Box" Johnson, who was on hand for the rollout and mingled among the crow at a VIP viewing site across the street from the Vehicle Assembly Building.

"But when I look back on the last this, and the last that, it's looking back. And we also need to look forward to another shuttle flight after Endeavour, and then a new vehicle, and a lot of good science that we're doing on the space station for the next decade or more."

Endeavour's crew is led by Mark Kelly, the husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. Giffords was critically injured during a Jan. 8 assassination attempt in Tucson that killed six people and wounded more than a dozen others.

Four mission specialists also are on the crew: Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel, Michael Fincke and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency.

The Endeavour launch is scheduled for 7:48 p.m. April 19. A three-day countdown is slated to pick up at 5:43 p.m. April 16.

ABOUT THE PHOTOS: Click to enlarge the FLORIDA TODAY photos of shuttle Endeavour making a long, slow roll out to launch pad 39A for its 25th and final flight -- a mission to haul a $1.5 billion particle physics experiment package to the International Space Station. Photo credit: Michael R. Brown/FLORIDA TODAY and NASA

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