Tuesday, April 19, 2011

NASA sets Endeavour's final launch for April 29

Endeavour is 10 days from its final launch.

After a flight readiness review today at Kennedy Space Center, NASA officials voted unanimously to set the launch for 3:47 p.m. April 29 -- a week from Friday.

Mission commander Mark Kelly and five crewmates are expected to arrive at KSC around 12:15 p.m. next Tuesday, shortly before the launch countdown officially picks up at 2 p.m.

Fueling of Endeavour is scheduled to start around 6:30 a.m. on launch day, when more than a half-million gallons of propellant will be loaded into the oldest external tank ever flown -- 10 years old.

The tank was refurbished after being damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when a roof collapsed at the tank assembly facility near New Orleans.

Kelly, pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialists Greg Chamitoff, Drew Feustel, Mike Fincke and Italian Roberto Vittori plan to fly spare parts and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station.

The mission is pegged for 14 days but could be extended while in orbit. A return to KSC for a 14-day mission would be expected at 9:26 a.m. May 13.

NASA managers will discuss the mission at a 4 p.m. press conference that you can watch by clicking the NASA TV player on the right side of this page. Participants include Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for space operations; Mike Moses, shuttle launch integration manager; and Mike Leinbach, the shuttle launch director.

IMAGE: On March 21, shuttle Endeavour glistened in the sun on launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. The rotating service structure that protects the shuttle from the elements and provides access to its components was open to allow crews to move the primary payload for Endeavour's STS-134 mission into the pad's structure before installing it into the spacecraft's cargo bay. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

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