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STS-134: Countdown Rehearsal
In preparation for space shuttle Endeavour's final launch, the STS-134 crew of six veteran astronauts flew T-38 training jets to NASA's Kennedy Space Center on the afternoon of March 29.
They came to the Florida launch site to conduct the standard week-long prelaunch training and countdown dress rehearsal -- officially known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test.
Mark Kelly/STS-134 Commander:
"TCDT, or Terminal Countdown Test, is when the processing and the training kind of comes together after being parallel things for a very long period of time."
Commander Mark Kelly and Pilot Greg Johnson got down to business the next morning with practice landings in the Shuttle Training Aircraft.
The entire crew received instruction and practiced driving the M113 armored personnel carrier as part of its emergency exit training.
At Launch Pad 39A, where Endeavour is undergoing final preparations, the astronauts inspected the payload for the mission, which already is tucked inside the shuttle's cargo bay.
Severe weather closed in on the Space Coast for 24 hours, covering the area with heavy winds, rain, lightning and hail.
While the storms caused no significant damage at the launch pad, weather conditions caused some delays and reshuffling of training activities.
This included moving the media Q&A, normally held at the launch pad, into Kennedy’s television auditorium.
Greg H. Johnson/STS-134 Pilot:
"I think every time you strap on a space shuttle, there is some intimidation among the crew members, knowing there's just an awesome amount of power and something that's going to be a milestone in their life. Whether it's the first time, or the fourth time. And Mark and I were talking about it today, how excited we are to be flying Endeavour in a couple weeks."
With the sun shining again, the crew participated in the centerpiece of the week's activities -- a launch dress rehearsal and practice countdown with the look and feel of a real launch day.
The crew members also rehearsed launch pad emergency evacuation procedures.
With the launch site exercises behind them, the astronauts returned to their home base -- NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston -- where they will continue training before returning to Florida for their targeted April launch.
At the launch pad, technicians will continue to prepare space shuttle Endeavour for its final flight, a 14-day mission to the International Space Station.
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