NASA's Shuttle Endeavour Heads to Space Station on Its Final Mission
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates are on their way to the International Space Station after launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 7:56 a.m. CDT Monday. The STS-134 mission is the penultimate orbiter flight and the final one for shuttle Endeavour
"This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment and exploration," Commander Mark Kelly said shortly before liftoff. "It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore. We must not stop. To all the millions watching today including our spouses, children, family and friends, we thank you for your support."
The crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) and critical supplies to the space station, including two communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional parts for the Dextre robot. AMS is a particle physics detector designed to search for various types of unusual cosmic matter. The crew also will transfer Endeavour's orbiter boom sensor system to the station, where it could assist spacewalkers as an extension for the station's robotic arm.
"Today's final launch of Endeavour is a testament to American ingenuity and leadership in human spaceflight," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "As we look toward a bright future with the International Space Station as our anchor and new destinations in deep space on the horizon, we salute the astronauts and ground crews who have ensured the orbiter's successful missions. The presence of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords at the launch inspired us all, just as America's space program has done for the past 50 years."
Kelly's crewmates are Pilot Greg H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel, Greg Chamitoff and Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency. This is the first shuttle flight for Fincke and Vittori. Vittori will be the last international astronaut to fly aboard a shuttle.
Endeavour is scheduled to dock to the station at 5:15 a.m. on Wednesday. The 16-day mission includes four spacewalks. After undocking to return to Earth, Kelly and Johnson will ease the shuttle back toward the station to test new sensor technologies that could facilitate the docking of future space vehicles to the station.
The shuttle's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for 1:32 a.m. on June 1. STS-134 is the 134th shuttle flight, the 25th flight for Endeavour and the 36th shuttle mission dedicated to station assembly and maintenance.
NASA's web coverage of STS-134 includes mission information, a press kit, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos. Mission coverage, including the latest NASA Television schedule, is available on the main space shuttle website at: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of the mission. NASA TV features live mission events, daily status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
Daily news conferences with STS-134 mission managers will take place at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. To participate, reporters must have valid media credentials issued by a NASA center or issued specifically for the STS-134 mission.
Journalists not on site must contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 no later than 15 minutes prior to the start of a briefing to participate. Newsroom personnel will verify credentials and transfer reporters to the phone bridge. Phone bridge capacity is limited and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Live updates to the NASA News Twitter feed will be added throughout the mission and landing. To access the feed, go to the NASA.gov homepage or visit: http://www.twitter.com/nasa
Kelly, Johnson, Fincke and Chamitoff are providing updates to their Twitter accounts during the mission. They can be followed at: http://www.twitter.com/shuttleCDRkelly http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Box http://www.twitter.com/AstroIronMike http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Taz
For more information about the space station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
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