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Space Station Prepares For Endeavour

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:55 am
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(NASA) – Space Shuttle Endeavour Heads to Space Station

The STS-127 crew began its journey to the International Space Station at 6:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday when space shuttle Endeavour lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The shuttle crew will complete construction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory and deliver a new crew member, astronaut Tim Kopra, to the orbital outpost.

Space shuttle Endeavour launches from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Credit: NASA TV

Space shuttle Endeavour launches from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Credit: NASA TV

The six-member Expedition 20 crew – Commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Mike Barratt, Koichi Wakata, Roman Romanenko, Bob Thirsk and Frank De Winne – continued preparations Wednesday for the shuttle’s arrival and worked on science experiments and station maintenance.

Padalka began his workday by activating the turbo-pump on the Plasma Crystal-3 Plus experiment, which studies the behavior of electrically charged dust particles in a space environment. Later, Padalka performed some troubleshooting on a power outlet in the Zvezda service module.

Barratt collected samples from surfaces throughout the station and tested them for microbial contamination. For this task, the crew uses LOCAD, the Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-portable test system, which detects biological and chemical substances within 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Thirsk used the Microbial Air Sampler to check for bacterial and fungal contamination in the station’s atmosphere.

Wakata, who will return to Earth with the STS-127 crew, focused on operations with the InSpace 2 experiment, performing a run and exchanging sample vials. InSpace investigates fluids that change properties in response to magnetic fields. This technology could help engineers develop new brake systems and robotics and improve the ability to design structures, such as bridges and buildings, to better withstand earthquake forces.

Working in Zvezda, Romanenko conducted routine maintenance on the service module’s life-support system.

De Winne spent part of his day packing hardware that will be returned on the shuttle. Later he inspected and cleaned the smoke detectors in the Columbus module.

Rob Goldsmith
"At about 107 seconds during ascent, we did see some debris events," astronaut Alan Poindexter called the crew from mission control. He said impacts were observed on the underside of the forward part of the right wing, similar to, but less severe than, damage that occurred during a May shuttle launch.

"It appeared to impact the starboard chine area," Poindexter said. "The impact appears to be less than what we experienced on (the last mission) and we'll certainly take a look at this throughout the evening and through the day tomorrow."

"Thanks for the info, I'm sure we'll get a good chance for all of us to get a good look at all that" during post-launch inspections Thursday, Polansky replied. "We can't thank you enough for getting us this far. It was a pretty decent wait, but we're thrilled to be here."
Being an astronaut just got to be a scary job.
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