As space shuttle Endeavour undocks from the International Space Station today (Tuesday), now is a good time to look back at the very successful STS-127 mission. Here’s some great images which tell the story of the mission. Above, astronaut Tim Kopra is pictured in the forward port side area of Endeavour’s cargo bay during the first of five planned spacewalks performed by the STS-127 crew. Kopra is now part of the ISS crew, and is staying onboard the space station to serve as flight engineer.
Of course, during this mission we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Fittingly, there was a Moon rock on board the ISS. The 3.6 billion year-old lunar sample was flown to the station aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-119 in April 2009. NASA says the rock, lunar sample 10072 serves as a symbol of the nation’s resolve to continue the exploration of space. It will be returned on shuttle mission STS-128 to be publicly displayed.
Here’s a view of the newly installed “front porch” of the Kibo lab, which is actually the Japanese Experiment Module – Exposed Facility (JEF). This platform will hold experiments designed to work outside the protective confines of the station, exposing them to the space environment. The JEF was installed by the astronauts during this mission.
During the second STS-127 spacewalk, astronaut Dave Wolf worked outside bringing the Linear Drive Unit (LDU) and two other parts to the station’s External Stowage Platform 3 for long-term storage. Wolf is near the end of Canadarm2, which is anchored on the ISS.
Speaking of the robotic arms, here’s a view of both the space station and space shuttle robotic arms as seen from inside the Kibo laboratory. A portion of the Japanese Experiment Module – Exposed Facility is also visible. The blackness of space and Earth’s horizon provide the backdrop for the scene.
Astronaut Tom Marshburn makes his second spacewalk on July 24, along with Christopher Cassidy, out of frame. Eleven other astronauts and cosmonauts remained inside the International Space Station and the shuttle while the two astronauts worked outside.
In total, there were 13 astronauts on board the ISS, a record for the amount of astronauts in one vehicle. Pictured, clockwise from bottom right, are astronauts Christopher Cassidy and Mike Barratt, with Russian Federal Space Agency cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, an unidentified crew member, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata (floating above), Canadian Space Agency astronauts Robert Thirsk and Julie Payette, European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne, and astronaut Christopher Cassidy. Either out of frame or not clearly seen are astronauts Mark Polansky, Doug Hurley, Dave Wolf, Tim Kopra and Tom Marshburn, plus Russian Federal Space Agency cosmonaut Gennady Padalka.
This screen shot shows the ISS as seen as Endeavour departed from the station on July 28. The views of both the ISS and shuttle were stunning. We’ll post the high-resolution versions when they become available. Notice the shadow of the space shuttle on the space station solar arrays! Amazing!
And now we’re back to the beginning of the mission. Liftoff for the STS-was at 6:03 p.m. (EDT) on July 15, 2009 from launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The storm clouds stayed far enough away so that Endeavour and her STS-127 crew finally on its sixth attempt. Watch a replay of the launch here.