We haven’t had time to catch our breath after STS-122 touched down on February 20th, only nine days ago, and yet the next launch date to the International Space Station (ISS) has been announced today. The date? March 11th -Â only 11 days from now. This time NASA has put together a nice little interactive gadget so you can see the 17 day mission from day to day…
STS-122 was a highly successful round trip to the ISS. The Space Shuttle Atlantis crew delivered ESA’s Columbus science module without a hitch on February 11th. The only small problem arose when one of the crew members suffered an undisclosed minor medical problem, postponing installation for a day, but the crew adapted and performed excellently.
With Atlantis’ engines still warm, Endeavour is being prepared for launch on March 11th. This time the mission is to install a part of the Japanese laboratory complex called “Kibo”. In addition, a new Canadian robotics system will be attached to complement the existing robotic arm servicing the Harmony module.
STS-123 will be a complex mission for crew members Dominic Gorie (Commander), Gregory H. Johnson (Pilot), Rick Linnehan (Mission Specialist), Robert L. Behnken (Mission Specialist), Mike Foreman (Mission Specialist), Garret Reisman (Mission Specialist) and Japanese astronaut Takao Doi. Five spacewalks (EVAs) will need to be carried out to continue the expansion of the station.
The Associate Administrator for Space Operations, Bill Gerstenmaier, stated that there were very few issues with the pre-launch stages and said that Space Shuttle Endeavour is ready to blast off.