Endeavour Launches Into Night, Set to Expand Space Station

Mar 11, 2008
Endeavour Launches Into Night, Set to Expand Space Station
Space shuttle Endeavour lifts off its launch pad at 2:28 a.m. EDT to start the STS-123 mission to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann

Space shuttle Endeavour thundered into orbit early Tuesday morning carrying seven astronauts and Japan's dreams for a space-based laboratory at the International Space Station.

Space shuttle Endeavour brought an early sunrise to the East Coast Tuesday, launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 2:28 a.m. EDT and beginning the STS-123 mission to the International Space Station.

"This is a great launch and a real tribute to the team to get it ready to go fly," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Space Operations.

During the 16-day flight, Endeavour's seven astronauts will work with the three-member space station crew and ground teams around the world to install the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system, known as Dextre. STS-123 is the longest shuttle mission to the station and will include a record five shuttle spacewalks at the orbiting laboratory, delivery of a new crew member to the complex and the return of another astronaut after nearly seven weeks aboard the station.

Shortly before launch, Commander Gorie thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible. "You've got seven smiling faces on board here," said Gorie. "God's truly blessed us with a beautiful night to launch so let's light 'em up and give them a show."

Joining Gorie on STS-123 are Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Robert L. Behnken, Mike Foreman, Rick Linnehan, Garrett Reisman and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takao Doi. Reisman will replace current station crew member LĂ©opold Eyharts, who has lived on the outpost since early February. Reisman will return to Earth on shuttle Discovery's STS-124 mission, targeted for launch on May 25, 2008.

Endeavour's cargo will help continue the station's assembly. The Japanese Experiment Logistics Module-Pressurized Section, or ELM-PS, will hold experiment samples, maintenance tools and other spare items. Dextre can be attached to the station's robotic arm to handle smaller components typically requiring a spacewalking astronaut. At the tip of each arm is a "hand" that consists of retractable jaws used to grip objects.

Source: NASA

Explore further: SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrives at space station

Related Stories

Interview with veteran NASA astronaut Brian Duffy

Apr 07, 2015

Space is always on the mind of a veteran NASA astronaut Brian Duffy. The key figure in an aerospace company Orbital ATK and a Space Shuttle commander is extremely keen on flying to space again. The enthusiasm ...

How to train your astronauts

Apr 06, 2015

Training an astronaut is no easy task. Astronauts go through years of rigorous technical, health and safety training to learn simple and complex tasks for a typical four to six month mission. They develop ...

Recommended for you

A blueprint for clearing the skies of space debris

Apr 17, 2015

An international team of scientists have put forward a blueprint for a purely space-based system to solve the growing problem of space debris. The proposal, published in Acta Astronautica, combines a super-wide field-of-view telesc ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

nano999
not rated yet Mar 11, 2008
It's absurd that we're still using this archaic method for blasting people into space. Get off your butts NASA and come up with something for the 21st century.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.