Launch: May 16, 2011
Time: 8:56 a.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: June 1 @ approx. 2:32 a.m. EDT
Site: KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility
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Cdr Mark Kelly
Pilot Greg Johnson
MS 1 Mike Fincke
MS 2 Roberto Vittori
MS 3 Drew Feustel
MS 4 Greg Chamitoff
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Live coverage of space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission to the International Space Station. Text updates will appear automatically; there is no need to reload the page. Follow us on Twitter.
SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2011The shuttle Endeavour's crew used an instrumented boom on the ship's robot arm Saturday to carry out a close-up, focused inspection of a damaged heat shield tile on the belly of the orbiter. By late afternoon, analysts concluded the damage posed no threat to the orbiter and NASA's Mission Management Team cleared the ship for re-entry as is.
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2039 GMT (4:39 p.m. EDT)The Mission Management Team this afternoon reviewed the damage assessment report from the dinged tile inspections and officially proclaimed Endeavour's heat shield safe for re-entry. The three-dimensional understanding gained of the divot shows the cavity only 0.89 inches deep. The max temperature the underlying structure of the vehicle should see is 219 degrees, well within the limit of 350 degrees.
2015 GMT (4:15 p.m. EDT)A low deck of clouds covering the Kennedy Space Center made space shuttle Endeavour's final launch mostly invisible to the spectators who flocked to the Space Coast. The ship disappeared into the clouds about 23 seconds after liftoff and was never seen again. But these aerial pictures taken by NASA's weather reconnaissance aircraft provide a beautiful look at Endeavour's morning ascent as the shuttle rocketed toward space with six astronauts and a $2 billion particle physics experiment for the International Space Station.
2000 GMT (4:00 p.m. EDT)Today's briefing from the Mission Management Team has been rescheduled for 4:30 p.m. EDT to update the focused inspection results. We'll stream it live when it happens.
1950 GMT (3:50 p.m. EDT)As we gear up for tomorrow's spacewalk, check out this photo gallery from the mission's first EVA.
1730 GMT (1:30 p.m. EDT)Flight Day 6 is nearly complete for the astronauts. Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke have begun their campout in the airlock module in preparation for tomorrow's spacewalk. Earlier today, the joint crews conducted a procedures review for the EVA.
In signing off before bedtime a few moments ago, CAPCOM Charlie Hobaugh told commander Mark Kelly that the Mission Management Team is meeting to review the results from this morning's focused inspections on the damaged tile. The preliminary vibe is good for clearing the tile "as-is" with no repair necessary.
The final word on the tile will be given to the crew when they wakeup tonight at 9:26 p.m. EDT.
1255 GMT (8:55 a.m. EDT)Pope Benedict XVI called the combined crews of the shuttle Endeavour and the International Space Station Saturday, wishing commander Mark Kelly's gravely wounded wife, Gabrielle Giffords, a steady recovery and asking station flight engineer Paolo Nespoli how he endured news of his mother's death in the isolation of space.
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0852 GMT (4:52 a.m. EDT)Endeavour's arm has parked the boom over the payload bay, completing the focused inspection procedures at 4:52 a.m.
0845 GMT (4:45 a.m. EDT)The boom has been swung back above the orbiter again.
0830 GMT (4:30 a.m. EDT)The inspection was finished at 4:30 a.m. EDT. The imagery and laser data will be analyzed by specialists on the ground to answer the open question about the extent of tile damage and verify the spacecraft's heat shield is safe for re-entry.
0825 GMT (4:25 a.m. EDT)And now a fifth and final sensor position has been achieved for collecting another scan.
0814 GMT (4:14 a.m. EDT)Data is being taken from a fourth sensor angle now.
0805 GMT (4:05 a.m. EDT)With two scanning positions utilized thus far, the crew is maneuvering the boom into a third angle now.
0751 GMT (3:51 a.m. EDT)The sensor package's position has been tweaked to provide a slightly different angle for more observations.
0740 GMT (3:40 a.m. EDT)The decision to perform with this "focused inspection" was made because analysts weren't able to clear one dinged tile based on the somewhat-fuzzy imagery they had from Wednesday's backflip maneuver. The team determined the additional photography to be gained by the "focused inspection" this morning would give the insights necessary to understand the damage.
0736 GMT (3:36 a.m. EDT)Mission Management Team chairman LeRoy Cain said today's "focused inspection" will take three up-close images of the dinged tile and two data-takes using the laser on the Orbiter Boom Sensor System to give a three-dimensional understanding of the damage spot.
0734 GMT (3:34 a.m. EDT)The Orbiter Boom Sensor System, anchored on the end of shuttle Endeavour's robot arm, has begun today's "focused inspections" of the tile ding.
0730 GMT (3:30 a.m. EDT)This is the fifth "focused inspection" to be performed by the space shuttle. The two test flights after the Columbia accident -- STS-114 and STS-121 -- both used the follow-up scans to checks damaged tiles and other concerns. STS-118 examined a tile divot and STS-122 looked at the blanket on the OMS engine pod.
0722 GMT (3:22 a.m. EDT)With astronauts Roberto Vittori and Drew Feustel at the controls, Endeavour's robot arm is placing the inspection boom underneath the shuttle toward the tile damage site.
0640 GMT (2:40 a.m. EDT)The crew is dealing with some communications issues and the routing of camera views before pressing on with the inspection.
0543 GMT (1:43 a.m. EDT)The space station's arm has backed away and moved itself into a good spot for viewing the inspections. The arm's cameras will help the astronauts when placing the boom underneath the shuttle.
0525 GMT (1:25 a.m. EDT)The shuttle Endeavour's crew began work early Saturday to carry out a close-up, focused inspection of a damaged heat shield tile on the belly of the orbiter to help engineers determine whether the ship can safely re-enter Earth's atmosphere as is or whether more analysis or repairs might be needed. NASA managers do not believe the "area of interest" poses a safety threat, but the inspection was ordered to make sure.
Read our full story.
0522 GMT (1:22 a.m. EDT)The shuttle's robot arm has grappled the Orbiter Boom Sensor System and taken the inspection device from the space station's arm. This handoff was necessary since the shuttle's arm can't reach the boom while in the payload bay cradles because the docking port is in the way and the station arm can't communicate with the boom's sensors for the actual inspections.
0500 GMT (1:00 a.m. EDT)The latest version of the NASA Television schedule (Rev. E) can be downloaded here.
0451 GMT (12:51 a.m. EDT)The International Space Station's robotic arm has reached down into the space shuttle's payload bay and picked up the Orbiter Boom Sensor System. In the next few minutes, the boom will be maneuvered into position for Endeavour's arm to come over and grab it.
0425 GMT (12:25 a.m. EDT)Endeavour pilot Greg Johnson and Expedition 27 flight engineer Ron Garan have arrived in their "office" to begin today's heat shield inspection. They are in the Cupola at the robotics workstation to operate the International Space Station's arm.
0128 GMT (9:28 p.m. EDT Fri.)The wakeup call has been sounded for Endeavour's crew to begin Flight Day 6.
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