Monday, April 25, 2011

NASA Prepares To Pick Up Endeavour Countdown

NASA is making final preparations today to close Endeavour's payload bay doors and pick up a countdown to the planned launch Friday of the nation's penultimate shuttle flight.

A pretest briefing is scheduled this morning in Firing Room No. 4 at the Launch Control Center, where engineers will be called to their stations at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. A three-day countdown will pick up 30 minutes later. Liftoff is slated for 3:47 p.m. Friday.

Mission commander Mark Kelly and his crew are expected to arrive at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday. The astronauts went into quarantine at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Friday. The crew includes pilot Gregory "Box" Johnson and four mission specialists: Greg Chamitoff, Andrew "Drew" Feustel, Michael Fincke and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency.

At launch pad 39A today, technicians are preparing to close the shuttle's payload bay doors for flight on Tuesday. The prime cargo is a $2 billion cosmic ray detector that will be fixed to the exterior of the International Space Station.

Only one shuttle mission remains after Endeavour's flight. Atlantis is scheduled to launch on NASA's 135th and final shuttle mission on June 28.

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