Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Endeavour Launch Preps Proceeding At KSC

NASA engineers and contractor technicians are rigging up small pyrotechnic devices on shuttle Endeavour today as the agency gears up for the planned launch next Monday of the orbiter's 25th and final flight.

Mission commander Mark Kelly and his crew went into quarantine at Johnson Space Center at 5 p.m. EDT Monday and will travel to Kennedy Space Center later this week, arriving at 11 a.m. Thursday.

Engineers will be called to their stations in the Launch Control Center at 6:30 a.m. Friday, and a three-day countdown will pick up a half-hour later. Liftoff is slated for 8:56 a.m. Monday.

At launch pad 39A today, small detonators are being rigged up on the vehicle. The ordnance will be used to separate the shuttle from its mobile launcher platform, solid rocket boosters and external tank in flight.

Technicians also will be finishing up work in the shuttle's aft engine compartment. Final close-outs on the shuttle's solid rocket booster forward skirt also is in work along with the close-out of the external tank vent line.

Endeavour and six astronauts aim to deliver a $2 billion cosmic ray detector to the International Space Station along with a pallet full of large spare parts. An April 29 launch attempt was scrubbed as a result of the failure of hydraulic power unit heaters, but technicians finishing fixing that problem over the weekend.

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