Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Endeavour crew at KSC for Friday launch

Endeavour's final flight crew has arrived at Kennedy Space Center from Houston as NASA prepares to pick up the countdown to the shuttle's planned 3:47 p.m. Friday launch.

Mission commander Mark Kelly, pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialists Greg Chamitoff, Drew Feustel, Mike Fincke and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency flew in formation over Endeavour on its launch pad before touching down in four T-38 training jets.

"It’s great to see Endeavour all ready to go again," Kelly told a crowd of about 75 media members and a couple dozen more NASA and contractor representatives assembled at the Shuttle Landing Facility. "We’re really ready to do this on Friday. It looks like we're going to have some great weather."

KSC Director Bob Cabana, Launch Director Mike Leinbach and family members including Kelly's twin brother Scott -- an astronaut recently returned from the International Space Station -- were among dignitaries who welcomed the six astronauts as they climbed from their cockpits in blue flight suits.

Kelly said his wife, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, would arrive "pretty soon," in time for the launch.

"It’s something she’s been looking forward to for a long time," he said. "She’s more than medically ready to be here and she’s excited about making this trip."

The astronauts arrived about 30 minutes before teams were scheduled to man their Launch Control Center consoles for the countdown's 2 p.m. start at the T minus 43-hour mark, a duration that includes numerous planned holds.

Over the next couple days, the flight crew will review flight procedures, check equipment and practice landings in a Gulfstream-2 jet modified to handle like the shuttle on descent.

They're scheduled to suit up for launch around 11:30 a.m. Friday and to board Endeavour an hour later.

"Since Endeavour’s first flight to this flight, it’s had a really outstanding career," said Kelly. "So my crew and I are really excited to be a part of that. We’re looking forward to launching on Friday."


No comments: