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STS-118: The mission

Officials for Endeavour's trip to the space station present a detailed overview of the STS-118 flight and objectives.

 Briefing | Questions

STS-118: Spacewalks

Four spacewalks are planned during Endeavour's STS-118 assembly mission to the space station. Lead spacewalk officer Paul Boehm previews the EVAs.

 Full briefing
 EVA 1 summary
 EVA 2 summary
 EVA 3 summary
 EVA 4 summary

STS-118: Education

A discussion of NASA's educational initiatives and the flight of teacher Barbara Morgan, plus an interactive event with students were held in Houston.

 Briefing | Student event

The Endeavour crew

The Endeavour astronauts, including teacher-astronaut Barbara Morgan, meet the press in the traditional pre-flight news conference.


Mars lander preview

A preview of NASA's Phoenix Mars lander mission and the science objectives to dig into the arctic plains of the Red Planet are presented here.


Phoenix animation

Project officials narrate animation of Phoenix's launch from Earth, arrival at Mars, touchdown using landing rockets and the craft's robot arm and science gear in action.


Endeavour rolls to VAB

Shuttle Endeavour is transported from its hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building for joining with a fuel tank and boosters for launch on STS-118.


Booster cameras

Hitch a ride up and down on the twin solid rocket boosters that launched shuttle Atlantis last week. Each booster was outfitted with three cameras to give NASA upclose footage of the vehicle's ascent.

 Full Coverage

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Astronauts arrive at Cape to practice launch countdown

Posted: July 16, 2007

The seven space shuttle Endeavour astronauts jetted into Kennedy Space Center Monday evening for this week's launch countdown dress rehearsal, a key part of the crew's final pre-flight training regimen.

Security personnel stand guard as the astronauts arrive at Kennedy Space Center. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now
Led by commander Scott Kelly, the crew traveled from Ellington Field near the Johnson Space Center aboard a Shuttle Training Aircraft, touching down at 7:08 p.m. EDT on three-mile shuttle landing strip at the Florida spaceport.

"It's really a privilege to be here. We really, really look forward to the rest of our training and we really appreciate the opportunity to fly the orbiter," Kelly told reporters gathered at the runway to cover the arrival.

The crew for this space station assembly mission includes pilot Charlie Hobaugh, spacewalkers Rick Mastracchio and Dave Williams, rookies Tracy Caldwell and Al Drew, and educator-astronaut Barbara Morgan. A former Idaho school teacher, Morgan was Christa McAuliffe's backup in the original "teacher-in-space" program.

Shuttle Endeavour, which recently came out of a major maintenance overhaul, will be making its first flight in nearly five years when it launches August 7.

"A lot of people have been working very, very hard on Endeavour over many years. It is a great ship and we look forward to flying it for all the people that work for this program, but particularly all of the people that really have put their heart and soul into this vehicle -- the people here at KSC."

The Endeavour crew will spend the next few days training at KSC. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now
Known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test, or TCDT, every shuttle crew undergoes this multi-day training exercise in the final weeks before a planned launch. The astronauts will spend time learning how to evacuate pad 39A if an emergency arises, including procedures to operate the slide-wire baskets that would quickly whisk the crew from the launch tower to a bunker west of the pad, and test-drive an armored tank available for the astronauts to escape the area.

Other activities on their schedule this week include inspections of the mission payloads, trying on the launch and landing spacesuits and holding an informal chat with reporters at the pad. The TCDT culminates Thursday when the crew boards Endeavour for a full countdown simulation.

The astronauts will follow a normal launch morning routine with breakfast, a weather briefing on conditions at the Cape and various abort landing sites, then don their suits and depart crew quarters at about 7:45 a.m. to board the Astrovan that will take them to pad 39A.

After arriving shortly past 8 a.m., all seven astronauts will climb inside Endeavour and strap into their assigned seats for the final three hours of the mock countdown.

Clocks will halt in the final seconds to simulate a shutdown of the three main engines just prior to liftoff around 11 a.m. The crew will egress the shuttle and practice scurrying to the slide-wire baskets.

For the countdown, the shuttle won't be fueled and the crew won't actually leave the tower in the baskets.

The crew was greeted at the runway Monday evening by reporters and photographers. Credit: Justin Ray/Spaceflight Now
Once the countdown is completed, the crew will return home to Houston for the final two weeks of training there. The astronauts are due back in Florida on August 3 for the start of Endeavour's real countdown.

NASA says preparations to Endeavour are going smoothly following the shuttle's arrival at the pad last Wednesday. Technicians have opened the payload bay doors and installed the Starboard 5 truss and an external stowage platform headed for the station along with a Spacehab cargo module.

Main engine hydraulic checks and aerosurface flight control tests have been accomplished, and standard leak inspections in the propulsion system are underway. The pad's liquid oxygen storage tank was filled last week, and the hydrogen tank is being loaded early this week.

Meanwhile, stacking of the solid rocket boosters for the October launch of shuttle Discovery begins Wednesday inside the Vehicle Assembly Building. The external fuel tank will arrive via barge next week from the Lockheed Martin manufacturing plant outside New Orleans.