Space Shuttle Endeavour Lifts Off

Filed under: Florida News,Kennedy Space Center,Vacation Tips |

Space Shuttle Endeavour blasted off on the penultimate shuttle flight yesterday morning under the command of Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The wounded congresswoman was at Kennedy Space Center and watched the launch in an undisclosed private location.

Endeavour is headed for the International Space Station for one final time before heading to retirement at a Los Angeles museum. The shuttle’s experienced, all-male crew will deliver and install a $2 billion particle physics experiment during the 16-day flight, as well as spare station parts.

This is also the next to last flight for the 30-year-old space shuttle fleet. It is the final flight for the shuttle Endeavour, NASA’s youngest orbiter, which has flown 116.4 million miles in 24 previous flights.

All being well and with Mark Kelly at the helm, Endeavour and its experienced crew of five Americans and an Italian, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori will arrive at the International Space Station on Wednesday. They will deliver a $2 billion magnetic instrument that will seek out antimatter and dark energy in the universe.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators witnessed Endeavour’s last launch but it was a smaller turnout than the crowds that viewed the last shuttle launch in February. The early morning launch may have affected the turn out as Endeavour blasted off at 8:56 a.m. whereas February’s launch and last month’s failed attempt were in the afternoon.

Projections had put Monday’s crowd at 500,000, more than the number that saw shuttle Discovery’s final hurrah in February however Titusville Assistant Police Chief John Lau guessed the crowd at between 350,000 and 400,000.

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