Endeavour astronauts arrive at Cape for launch of Tranquility


(Editor’s Note: Ken Kremer is in Florida for Universe Today covering the upcoming Endeavour launch attempt.)

The six person crew for the STS 130 flight of shuttle Endeavour arrived at the Kennedy Space Center late this evening, Tuesday Feb. 2. The astronauts flew here from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston aboard the Shuttle Training Aircraft (STA). They landed at the Cape at approximately 10:10 PM EST at the shuttle landing facility strip which is where the shuttles return from space after completing their orbital mission. The STA is a modified Gulfstream II jet.

A crowd of NASA officials and reporters including myself were on hand to greet the crew. After they emerged from the STA (see photo), Shuttle Commander George Zamka offered some brief comments on behalf of the entire crew. “Welcome to the STS-130 night shift! It is the only shift we got. If you are working STS-130, it is going to be dark outside,”

“It’s great to be here at the Cape. We’ve got Tranquility and Cupola loaded up in the space shuttle Endeavour at Launch Pad 39A and this is the place for us to be. We just did our final ascent sim last night and final preparations for our mission”.

Caption: Overhead view of Tranquility & Cupola modules inside the Space Station Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center on Jan 8, 2010. Tranquility will be attached to ISS by STS 130 astronaut crew. Credit: Ken Kremer

“Everything with Endeavour is going very, very well. We got a great team here. We’re going to be reviewing our procedures and will be looking at our late stowage items before loading onto Endeavour and other flight equipment. We’ll also be doing some final landing practice here at the Cape”.

“We talked to the space station crew last night, Jeff Williams and company. They’re doing great. We’re all very excited about meeting up with them, rendezvousing with the space station and getting started on this great project of bringing the Tranquility module to life and putting the cupola in its final position, opening up those shutters and taking a look at the Earth. Go Endeavour !”

The astronauts then posed for a photo op and quickly departed by bus for more astronaut training overnight as they shift their sleep and work cycles according to NASA officials at the media event.

Early Wednesday morning at 530 AM the astronauts will travel to the Space Station Processing Facility to inspect late delivered items. Foremost among these are the newly fabricated and redesigned ammonia jumper hoses which replace the original hoses that ruptured during pre-flight testing in early January (see my earlier story). These lines carry the coolent which is critical to maintaining temperature control inside the Tranquility module and are required to fully activate the module after it is attached to the International Space Station (ISS). The new hoses were rapidly pieced together from shorter sections and thoroughly tested at high pressure to insure their utility and safety.

The countdown begins at 2 AM on Thursday, Feb. 4. The launch of Endeavour is slated for 4:39 AM on Sunday, Feb. 7 from Pad 39 A.

Earlier STS 130 article by Ken Kremer

ISS Crew Twitpics from Orbit; Live Streaming Video Soon !

Path clear for STS 130 to attach Tranquility module

Endeavour aiming for on time launch with coolant hose fix ahead of schedule

STS 130 flight pressing forward to launch as NASA resolves coolant hose leak

STS-130 Shuttle flight facing delay due to Payload technical glitch

Shuttle Endeavour Rolled to Pad; Countdown to the Final Five Begins

Tranquility Module Formally Handed over to NASA from ESA