Launch Coverage

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Welcome to NASA's STS-123 Launch Blog
Space shuttle Endeavour lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 2:28 a.m. EDT on March 11, 2008, on a mission to deliver a Japanese laboratory component and robotic arm system to the International Space Station.

Activated: 9:30 p.m. EDT
Deactivated: 2:45 a.m. EDT

Video Gallery Video highlights from the STS-123 countdown are selected from televised coverage provided by NASA TV.
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Note: All times are given in Eastern Time unless otherwise noted.

2:45 a.m. - With space shuttle Endeavour safely in orbit after a flawless countdown, STS-123 mission coverage of the launch will end. Log on to and watch NASA TV for continuing coverage of Endeavour's mission to deliver new components to the International Space Station.

2:36 a.m. - Main engine cutoff! Space shuttle Endeavour is now safely in space and its three main engines have shut down as planned. The external tank has been jettisoned back to Earth and Endeavour is making its way to the International Space Station.

2:31 a.m. - Endeavour has jettisoned its twin solid rocket boosters as planned. Endeavour continues onward to orbit on the thrust of its three main engines. The external tank holding the fuel for the main engines remains attached to the shuttle. All systems are working well.

2:30 a.m. - The enormous thrust of the solid rocket boosters and three main engines combined to bring an artificial sunrise over NASA's Kennedy Space Center early this morning as space shuttle Endeavour roared off Launch Pad 39A on time at 2:28 a.m. EDT.

2:28 a.m. - Space shuttle Endeavour has cleared the launch tower and is on its way to the International Space Station.

2:28 a.m. - LIFTOFF!

2:26 a.m. - T- 2 minutes and counting . . . The External Tank umbilical arm, which holds the "beanie cap" over the tank during fueling, is retracting, one of the last visible steps before launch.

2:23 a.m. - T- 5 minutes and counting . . . All systems remain go for the launch of STS-123 on its mission to the International Space Station. Launch controllers are aiming for a 2:28 a.m. launch time to set Endeavour on a precise course for the station.

2:21 a.m. - T- 7 minutes and counting . . . The Crew Access Arm is moving away from space shuttle Endeavour's side hatch as the countdown to begin STS-123 continues. The arm can be swung back into position quickly in the unlikely case of an emergency that requires the crew to leave the shuttle.

2:19 a.m. - T- 9 minutes and counting . . . The countdown for STS-123 has entered its final stretch. Automatic systems at the launch pad will precisely remove the last few pieces of equipment out of the way of space shuttle Endeavour so it can rocket into space. The Crew Access Arm will retract in two minutes.

2:13 a.m. – “Clear to launch Endeavour,” Launch Director Mike Leinbach said after the launch team gave a unanimous “go for launch” of STS-123 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at 2:28 a.m. EDT.

2:07 a.m. – Weather remains green according to a new launch weather update given to Launch Director Mike Leinbach.

1:45 a.m. - Meteorologists are watching cloud decks in the vicinity of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, but weather conditions remain go for launch at 2:28 a.m. EDT.

1:34 a.m. - T-9 minutes and holding . . . The countdown has entered a scheduled hold at the T-9 minute point. The hold is scheduled to last 45 minutes.

1:23 a.m. – T-20 minutes and counting . . . The countdown to the launch of STS-123 has resumed as scheduled. The next countdown milestone will come up in 11 minutes when the countdown clock enters its last built-in hold at T-9 minutes. That hold will last 45 minutes.

1:20 a.m. – The Closeout Crew is leaving the launch pad after helping the crew of STS-123 into Endeavour.

1:13 a.m. - T- 20 minutes and holding . . . The countdown has entered a built-in hold for 10 minutes. There are no technical issues and the weather forecast remains favorable for launch at 2:28 a.m. EDT.

1 a.m. – The International Space Station is getting ready to host a new kind of spacecraft known as the Automated Transfer Vehicle, or simply ATV. The spacecraft is an unmanned capsule built by Europe to ferry experiment racks, equipment and supplies to the station. It is larger than the Russian-built Progress craft that have been helping resupply the station.

The ATV, named Jules Verne, was launched Saturday aboard a European-built Ariane 5 rocket. It is undergoing tests in a separate orbit for two weeks before it catches up to the International Space Station and docks.

12:40 a.m. - The Air Force's Eastern Range is running through standard countdown checks and all signs are green for launch. The Eastern Range encompasses a vast area of the Atlantic Ocean and the Air Force has an extensive network of antennas and control networks to communicate with space shuttles and rockets as they launch.

12:27 p.m. - With the side hatch on Endeavour closed and locked, Closeout Crew technicians are now running leak checks to make sure the crew cabin is secured.

12:20 a.m. - Technicians called the Closeout Crew are closing the hatch on space shuttle Endeavour as the countdown continues to run smoothly. The astronauts inside Endeavour can still open the hatch in an emergency, and it can even be opened if there is a problem during launch or landing. All signs point to an on-time launch at 2:28 a.m. EDT from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

12:05 a.m. - The hatch on Endeavour is scheduled to be closed in less than 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the Final Inspection Team reported no troublesome ice formations on the external tank.

12:01 a.m. - T-1hour, 31 minutes and counting . . . Launch preparations continue on pace to launch space shuttle Endeavour on time this morning at 2:28 a.m. EDT from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The seven astronauts for the STS-123 mission are in their seats and the Closeout Crew is starting to remove non-flight items from the crew cabin.

11:45 p.m. - The crew members are checking their individual communications systems as technicians working inside the shuttle make final fittings and adjustments to the astronauts' suits and seats.

11:35 p.m. – Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Takao Doi is next up for entering Endeavour. He will lead the way into the first segment of Japan's Kibo laboratory complex once it is attached to the International Space Station. The module will eventually hold equipment and experiments for the main Kibo facility. The STS-123 and International Space Station astronauts will team up to attach the segment to one of the ports on the Harmony connecting node. A later mission will carry the main Kibo laboratory to the station.

11:31 p.m. - Launch preparations continue moving smoothly toward the planned liftoff at 2:28 a.m. EDT. Mission Specialist Mike Foreman is taking his seat on the flight deck of Endeavour. He will serve as flight engineer during launch and relay information to the commander and pilot during ascent.

11:24 - p.m. – Mission Specialist Robert L. Behnken is climbing inside Endeavour and will sit on the flight deck during launch. Behnken was assigned to launch and landing support duties at NASA's Kennedy Space Center soon after his selection as an astronaut in 2000. He will make three spacewalks during Endeavour's flight.

11:18 p.m. – Mission Specialist Rick Linnehan is moving into Endeavour's hatch and will sit on the middeck of the space shuttle's crew compartment. The middeck is the lower level of the orbiter's crew area and three astronauts will sit in seats that will be stowed away once they reach orbit. Linnehan has flown into space three times before and performed three spacewalks to service the Hubble Space Telescope on STS-109 in 2002. He will make another three spacewalks during the STS-123 mission.

11:17 p.m. - Gregory H. Johnson is the next to enter Endeavour. As the mission's pilot, he will take the right seat on the flight deck in front of a control system set up identically to the one Commander Dominic Gorie uses. This is Johnson's first space flight.

11:16 p.m. - STS-123 Commander Dominic Gorie is in place on the flight deck and getting set up to begin communications checks with the Launch Control Center at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and the Mission Control Center at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Texas.

11:15 p.m. – Mission Specialist Garrett Reisman is the next to board space shuttle Endeavour for STS-123. Once at the International Space Station, Reisman will swap places with current space station resident Leopold Eyharts of the European Space Agency. Reisman will return to Earth on space shuttle Discovery during STS-124, while Eyharts will fly home on Endeavour.

11:10 p.m. - The crew has begun boarding Endeavour through the side hatch on the space shuttle. Commander Dominic Gorie goes first and will make his way to the left seat on the flight deck. With Endeavour standing on its tail for launch, the astronauts have to be very careful where they put their feet while getting into place. There are covers over critical controls and areas to prevent kicking by astronauts or technicians helping them strap in.

11:05 p.m. - While the crew gets ready to board the space shuttle, the Final Inspection Team is completing its survey of the outside of the shuttle. The team of expert observers studies the shuttle components for signs of ice buildup on the external tank.

10:45 p.m. - The countdown continues toward a 2:28 a.m. launch as the seven astronauts who will fly aboard space shuttle Endeavour make their way to Launch Pad 39A. They are riding inside the Astrovan, which is specially equipped for crew members wearing bulky pressure suits.

10:40 p.m. - Commander Dominic Gorie led his STS-123 crew out of the Operations & Checkout Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and into the waiting Astrovan for the trip to the launch pad. The astronauts have been staying in the crew quarters inside the Operations & Checkout Building since arriving at Kennedy early Saturday morning.

10:33 p.m. - T-3 hours and counting . . . The countdown has resumed on schedule for the launch of the STS-123 mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff remains set for 2:28 a.m. EDT from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew of seven astronauts will be leaving shortly for the trip to the launch pad.

10:15 p.m. - There are trained technicians to help each astronaut into his pressure suit for this morning's launch. The technicians will also carry out the tests on each suit to make sure they hold air as designed in case of an emergency during launch or landing. Once in space, the crew will change into more earthly clothing.

Liftoff remains on schedule for 2:28 a.m. EDT from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

10:05 p.m. - The seven astronauts of Endeavour are getting dressed for their launch into space this morning. They will each don orange pressure suits and then test them with helmets in place before heading out to Launch Pad 39A where Endeavour is waiting for them.

9:55 p.m. - STS-123 Commander Dominic Gorie and Pilot Gregory H. Johnson are receiving detailed systems and weather briefings from forecasters and shuttle program officials. Afterward, they will put on the orange pressure suits they will wear during launch and landing for the mission.

9:45 p.m. - The weather forecast remains go for launch later tonight from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The stars are out and there are only whisps of clouds over the launch site. The weather forecast is holding at 90 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time. The countdown is in a planned hold at the T-3 hour point. Launch preparations are continuing on schedule for a launch at 2:28 a.m. EDT this morning.

9:35 p.m. - STS-123 is a mission to the International Space Station scheduled to last 16 days. It will deliver two important components to the orbiting research facility, including the first piece of a large Japanese laboratory. Endeavour also carries a robotic system called Dextre that was developed and built in Canada to help station crews with maintenance and construction duties.

With five spacewalks planned, the flight promises to be a busy one for the crew of seven astronauts led by Commander Dominic Gorie. Gregory H. Johnson is the pilot for the mission. The five mission specialists are Rick Linnehan, Robert L. Behnken, Mike Foreman, Garrett Reisman and Japanese astronaut Takao Doi. Reisman will not return on Endeavour, but will move into the International Space Station for a long-duration mission. He will trade places with European Space Agency astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who flew into space aboard space shuttle Atlantis last month.

9:30 p.m. - Welcome to's in-depth coverage of the launch of space shuttle Endeavour on the STS-123 mission. The countdown remains on schedule for a liftoff at 2:28 a.m. EDT from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

About a half-million gallons of supercold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen have been pumped into Endeavour's massive external tank. The chemicals will power Endeavour's three main engines during the shuttle's 8 1/2-minute climb into space. The tank will be jettisoned just before Endeavour reaches orbit.

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