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The Mission




Orbiter: Endeavour
Mission: STS-126
Payload: ISS ULF2
Launch: Nov. 14, 2008
Time: 7:55 p.m. EST
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Landing: Nov. 30 at 4:25 p.m. EST
Site: Edwards Air Force Base, California
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Meet the astronauts flying aboard Endeavour's STS-126 mission.

Meet the Astronauts

CDR: Chris Ferguson

PLT: Eric Boe

MS 1: Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper

MS 2: Stephen Bowen

MS 3: Don Pettit

MS 4: Shane Kimbrough

Up: Sandy Magnus

Down: Greg Chamitoff

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Video archive

STS-126: The programs

In advance of shuttle Endeavour's STS-126 mission to the station, managers from both programs discuss the flight.

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STS-126: The mission

A detailed preview of Endeavour's mission to deliver expanded crew accommodations to the station is provided in this briefing.

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STS-126: Spacewalks

Four spacewalks are planned during Endeavour's STS-126 mission to the station.

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STS-126: The Crew

The Endeavour astronauts, led by commander Chris Ferguson, meet the press in the traditional pre-flight news conference.

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Shuttle rollaround

Space shuttle Endeavour switched launch pads on Oct. 23, traveling from pad 39B to pad 39A.

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Two shuttles sighted

Stunning aerial views of shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour perched atop launch pads 39A and 39B on Sept. 20.

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Endeavour to the VAB

For its role as a rescue craft during the Hubble servicing mission and the scheduled November logistics run to the space station, Endeavour is moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

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Crew spends first day in space inspecting Endeavour
BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: November 15, 2008; Updated after status briefing

The shuttle Endeavour is in good shape after its climb to space Friday and engineers are only working a handful of relatively minor problems, most noticeably glitches with the shuttle's KU-band antenna, the chairman of NASA's Mission Management Team said today. Based on an evening video inspection, a presumably lost strip of flexible insulation from the shuttle's left aft fuselage apparently is still in place.

"The mission is going extremely well," said MMT Chairman LeRoy Cain. "The crew is in good shape as is Endeavour. ... There are a few very minor things that we have in work that the team is looking at but nothing of overall great significance. The space station program reported to us that the station is in good shape and the crew on board the station is ready for Endeavour and her crew to show up tomorrow."

Cain said an analysis of imagery from Endeavour's night launch Friday is not yet complete, but poor lighting means a detailed assessment will have to wait until on-orbit inspections are completed later in the mission. The crew was told of two possible debris events late Friday, but Cain said today as far as he's concerned, only one event is currently under discussion.

At roughly 28 seconds after launch, just before the shuttle's three main engines throttled back to 72 percent thrust to ease aerodynamic loads on the vehicle, a piece of debris of some sort, possibly a small strip of flexible reusable surface insulation, or FRSI, appeared in close-up tracking camera footage in the area right above the shuttle's left-side aft umbilical connection plate just below the left orbital maneuvering system rocket pod.

Some images pre-launch photos showing the blanket can be seen here and here. A tracking camera shot of the debris is available here.

"We have one area that we're looking at from a debris standpoint," Cain said. "Just underneath the left OMS pod, in the area right above the T-0 umbilical plate, there is what we think is a narrow strip of the blanket insulation material that came loose and flew away there. ... This is not an area that is of great concern to us in terms of losing a blanket. As I said, the umbilical plate itself is an aluminum surface that is unprotected by any thermal protection system."

Just after 6 p.m. today, the astronauts took a moment to aim a camera on the shuttle's heat shield inspection boom to photograph the area. To the untrained eye, no obvious damage was apparent and at an 8 p.m. mission status briefing, lead flight director Mike Sarafin said the insulation in that area appeared to be intact and "there's no apparent damage there."

"To me, I saw the launch imagery at 28 seconds, it looked like something was clearly there, it wasn't there in a previous frame or two of the ascent imagery," Sarafin said. "What the root cause of that is, I'll wait until we get all the imagery data on the ground."

FRSI insulation is used in areas of the shuttle where re-entry heating does not exceed 700 degrees Fahrenheit. Engineers are continuing to study what the debris seen in the launch video might have been.

Cain mentioned two problems with the shuttle's KU-band antenna, a steerable dish antenna mounted near the front right side of the ship's payload bay that automatically finds, locks onto and tracks NASA's data relay satellites. The antenna sends and receives data, voice communications and television signals and can operate in radar mode during rendezvous operations.

In one problem, the antenna fails to maintain lock on a target satellite after getting initial pointing instructions from the shuttle's computers. Cain said flight controllers can work around the glitch by operating in what is known as GPC designate mode, in which pointing instructions are continuously sent to the antenna system. While this mode requires additional work by ground controllers, it is transparent to the shuttle's crew.

The second problem involves trouble with automatic handover between KU- and S-band communications. Again, ground controllers will manually oversee such handovers as required with no impact on the mission.

It's not yet clear what is causing the problems. If the loss-of-lock condition is located in the antenna electronics, Cain said, the KU system may not be able to operate in radar mode during Endeavour's rendezvous with the international space station Sunday. In that case, the crew will switch to a backup procedure and use the shuttle's star trackers to provide navigation data during the final stages of the rendezvous.

Cain said all shuttle crews are trained to carry out star tracker rendezvous procedures in case of radar failures.

"In my recollection, we've done at least one (star tracker rendezvous) in the space station assembly sequence, it was on STS-92 (in 2000)," Cain said. "We did exercise a radar-fail rendezvous on that mission."

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Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION STATUS BRIEFING PLAY
VIDEO: SATURDAY'S MISSION MANAGEMENT TEAM UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: FLIGHT DIRECTOR'S SUMMARY OF FLIGHT DAY 2 PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW ANIMATION OF HEAT SHIELD INSPECTIONS PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED TOUR OF ENDEAVOUR'S PAYLOAD BAY PLAY

VIDEO: FLIGHT DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS MOVIE PLAY
VIDEO: SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR BLASTS OFF! PLAY
VIDEO: SPACEFLIGHT NOW'S LAUNCH PAD CAMERA PLAY
VIDEO: THE FULL STS-126 LAUNCH EXPERIENCE PLAY
VIDEO: INSIDE MISSION CONTROL DURING LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: FINAL PRE-LAUNCH POLLS GIVE "GO" FOR LIFTOFF PLAY
VIDEO: SHUTTLE'S CREW MODULE HATCH CLOSED FOR FLIGHT PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST DON PETTIT BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: MISSION SPECIALIST SHANE KIMBROUGH BOARDS PLAY
VIDEO: PILOT ERIC BOE BOARDS ENDEAVOUR PLAY
VIDEO: COMMANDER CHRIS FERGUSON BOARDS ENDEAVOUR PLAY
VIDEO: CREW DEPARTS QUARTERS FOR LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ASTRONAUTS DON SPACESUITS FOR LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED RECAP OF ENDEAVOUR'S PRE-FLIGHT CAMPAIGN PLAY
VIDEO: NARRATED RECAP OF PAYLOADS' PRE-FLIGHT CAMPAIGN PLAY

VIDEO: PAD 39A SERVICE GANTRY RETRACTED FOR LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: THURSDAY'S COUNTDOWN STATUS AND WEATHER UPDATE PLAY
VIDEO: WEDNESDAY'S PRE-LAUNCH NEWS CONFERENCE PLAY
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR ASTRONAUTS ARRIVE FOR LAUNCH PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TUESDAY'S COUNTDOWN STATUS AND WEATHER UPDATE PLAY

VIDEO: STATION ASTRONAUTS PREPARE FOR SHUTTLE ARRIVAL PLAY
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR'S PAYLOADS READIED FOR TREK TO SPACE PLAY

VIDEO: UPDATE ON SHUTTLE AND STATION PROGRAMS PLAY
VIDEO: STS-126 MISSION OVERVIEW PLAY
VIDEO: PREVIEW BRIEFING ON MISSION'S SPACEWALKS PLAY
VIDEO: THE ASTRONAUTS' PRE-FLIGHT NEWS BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH COMMANDER CHRIS FERGUSON PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH PILOT ERIC BOE PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS1 HEIDEMARIE PIPER PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS2 STEPHEN BOWEN PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS3 DON PETITT PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS4 SHANE KIMBROUGH PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH MS5 SANDY MAGNUS PLAY

VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH SPACE STATION'S EXPEDITION 17 CREW PLAY

VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR COMMANDER AND PILOT PRACTICE LANDINGS PLAY

VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER UPDATES SOYUZ INVESTIGATION PLAY
VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER DESCRIBES SARJ REPAIR PLAN PLAY
VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER DISCUSSES RADIATOR DAMAGE PLAY
VIDEO: EXPEDITION 18 PRE-FLIGHT MISSION BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS OF ATLANTIS AND ENDEAVOUR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR AT SUNRISE ON LAUNCH PAD 39B PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS OF ENDEAVOUR AFTER ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR ROLLS FROM VAB TO LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ARRIVAL AT PAD 39B PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR LEAVING VAB PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE HOISTED FOR ATTACHMENT TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR'S DEPARTURE FROM HANGAR PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR GOING VERTICAL PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF BEING HOISTED OFF TRANSPORTER PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR MOVING TO VAB PLAY
MORE: STS-126 VIDEO COVERAGE
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