Endeavour crew boards the spacecraft for rehearsal
BY JUSTIN RAY
Posted: January 21, 2010
Dressed in their bright orange spacesuits and following the scripted launch morning routine, the six astronauts who will blast off aboard Endeavour next month went to the launch pad and climbed inside the shuttle today for a realistic dry run.
The mock countdown culminated several days of emergency skills training and practicing for the real launch that's coming up in a few weeks.
The Astrovan delivered the astronauts to the seaside pad around 8 a.m. EST to begin entering the orbiter and taking their assigned seats just like the actual countdown.
Clocks ticked down to T-minus 4 seconds before ending with a mock abort at 11:05 a.m. EST. The final count also practiced holds at the intermediate way points of T-minus 5 minutes and T-minus 1 minute, 57 seconds.
The Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test concluded with the astronauts exiting the shuttle to rehearse emergency evacuation procedures and hopping in the escape baskets hanging on the launch tower.
Still to come during the visit, the crew will stop by the pad's cleanroom for a close inspection of the mission payloads. The Tranquility module and attached cupola for the International Space Station were installed into Endeavour's cargo bay on Wednesday.
They will fly back to Houston on Friday morning to finish final training there.
The two-week orbital voyage is the first of five shuttle missions planned this year before the venerable spaceplanes are retired from service. Robinson said the crew isn't dwelling on the program's ending, but surely will reflect after they return from space.
"We're thinking about STS-130 every minute of every day. But it occurs to me that when we come back, the reality of what this year really means to the space shuttle program is going to set in. And it's bittersweet. We all love the shuttle -- look at that grand thing, look at what human beings can do.
"But the history of space travel has shown that when one program ends the next program is even more exciting, more motivating, more compelling to go into the future than the one before it. We don't exactly know what's going to happen after the shuttle, but we do believe that's going to be the case."