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STS-130 Launch Rehearsal
The STS-130 astronauts visited NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for a week of launch training for their upcoming mission.
It's called the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT, and every space shuttle crew goes through it before liftoff.
Led by Commander George Zamka, the six astronauts arrived in T-38 training aircraft, touching down at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility on January 18.
George D. Zamka /STS-130 Commander:
It's a beautiful evening and this is a very special trip for us. It marks the transition for us from flight preparation and training to the operational stage of our flight. We're looking forward to flying this flight here in just a few weeks.
All the crew members practiced driving the tank-like M113 armored personnel carrier.
They also learned how to evacuate from the space shuttle, and ride to safety in suspended slidewire baskets.
Zamka and Pilot Terry Virts spent time flying the Shuttle Training Aircraft, modified to mimic the handling qualities of a landing orbiter.
And the astronauts were able to go into space shuttle Endeavour's payload bay, to see the Tranquility connecting node and the seven-windowed cupola ready to fly to the International Space Station.
The week's activities wrapped up with a full countdown dress rehearsal.
The astronauts suited up, rode out to the launch pad and strapped inside Endeavour -- just like they will on launch day.
Terry W. Virts/STS-130 Pilot:
This is a beautiful vehicle. We have a great view here. It's just amazing to see the space shuttle. I think what stands out to me is how big it is. When you walk up to it, it's just such a large vehicle that -- the external tank, the solid rocket boosters -- it's amazing to think of that vehicle weighing, you know, almost 4 million pounds. It's just impressive.
With their practice countdown behind them, the crew returned to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
They'll fly back to Kennedy Space Center when liftoff is just a few days away.
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