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November 17, 2000

Bruce Buckingham
Kennedy Space Center, FL
(Phone: 321/867-2468)

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, TX
(Phone: 281/483-5111)

Release: J00-78

Endeavour to Launch Nov. 30 on Station Assembly Flight to Deploy Largest Solar Arrays Ever in Space, Visit First Crew

The launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour has been set for Thursday, Nov. 30, 2000, on a mission of space flight firsts that will spread giant solar array wings -- the longest structure ever in space -- above the International Space Station, providing it with more power than any previous spacecraft.

"This mission will assemble the heaviest, largest and most complex piece of the International Space Station to date," Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said. "Every Shuttle flight for the next year carries its own set of firsts. But this mission, unfolding solar arrays of historic proportions, will make the challenge and grandeur of this entire venture more apparent than will any other single flight. It's a great mission to complete a very safe and successful year for the Space Shuttle team coast to coast."

Endeavour's liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center on Shuttle mission STS-97 is targeted for 10:06 p.m. EST, in a launch window that will be less than five minutes long. Endeavour and its five-man crew will carry aloft a 17-ton package of immense solar arrays and their associated batteries, electronics and cooling equipment to be attached to the International Space Station. Once deployed, this first set of U.S.-developed arrays -- three more sets of arrays will be added in coming years -- will measure 240 feet tip-to-tip and power the first station science experiments and laboratory, the U.S. Destiny Lab, to be launched on the next shuttle flight, STS-98 in January 2001.

Veteran Astronaut Brent Jett (Cmdr., USN) will command the mission. Michael Bloomfield (Lt. Col., USAF) will serve as pilot. They will be accompanied by Mission Specialists Joe Tanner, Carlos Noriega (Lt. Col., USMC) and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Marc Garneau. Tanner and Noriega will perform spacewalks during the mission to install the arrays and prepare for the laboratory's arrival next year. Endeavour also will be the first Shuttle to visit an inhabited International Space Station, dropping off supplies and equipment for the three-person station crew -- Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev -- that has been aboard the outpost since Nov. 2.


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