Launch: April 29, 2011
Time: 3:47 p.m. EDT
Site: Pad 39A, Kennedy Space Center
Landing: May 13 @ 9:28 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.
FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2011A day after shuttle Discovery entered forced retirement, sistership Endeavour emerged from the Vehicle Assembly Building and rolled to Kennedy Space Center's launch pad overnight for her 25th and final flight.
0850 GMT (3:50 a.m. EST)
Bolted to a giant external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters atop a mobile launching platform, Endeavour embarked on the three-and-a-half-mile trip at 7:55 p.m. EST.
On hand were hundreds of local workers who brought their families to witness the rollout up-close and personal as the spaceship, bathed in powerful lights, slowly inched down the roadway.
The crowd also got meet Endeavour's pilot, Greg Johnson, who flew to the Cape to attend the rollout and visit with the workforce.
"Those are the people who have sweated over Endeavour for the last two decades and they are the people who have enabled us to be here tonight. So I was happy to be talking to them and sharing the experience with them," he said.
"Lots of moms, lots of dads...It's an inspiration for me seeing the kids out there."
And after chatting with reporters, Johnson planned to jump aboard the shuttle's crawler-transporter and ride along for a while.
The Apollo-era mover carried the shuttle stack along the rock-covered crawlerway leading to the oceanfront launch complex on the brisk night. Endeavour was secured onto the pad's pedestals to complete the rollout at 3:49 a.m. EST.
Scheduled to launch April 19 at 7:48 p.m. EDT, the two-week mission by Endeavour will deliver an exotic particle physics experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station.
AMS will be unberthed from the shuttle payload bay and robotically attached atop the station's truss backbone to probe the origins of dark matter, answer whether antimatter exists and search for new matter in the universe.
"What's going to be interesting about AMS is not the things we're expecting to learn, it's those unknown unknowns, those things we find out that we didn't know existed. I think we'll probably discover a new particle or two," Johnson said.
This will be Johnson second shuttle flight, both on Endeavour, after serving as pilot on the STS-123 mission back in 2008. He and his fellow crewmates for STS-134, commander Mark Kelly and mission specialists Mike Fincke, Roberto Vittori, Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff, have been training for about 18 months.
"Every single space shuttle flight is a blessing," he said. "I'm just excited beyond words to be on this flight."
Asked what he is looking forward to the most, Johnson instantly said it's the launch.
"The ascent is pretty spectacular. I trained almost 10 years before I got to go on my first space shuttle flight...All that simulation didn't prepare me for the spectacle of launch. It was like sensory overload with the light and the sound, you could feel it, you could almost taste it.
"As the space shuttle launched off the pad, I was like a deer staring into the headlights for a second. I said 'wait a second, I'm the pilot, I have a job to do here' and got my wits about me. But it was quite the experience!"
With Discovery already finished flying, Endeavour's finale is next month and Atlantis' last voyage comes in late June as the space shuttles fade into history.
"The greatest legacy of the space shuttle will be that first 18-wheeler that was able to get people and things up to orbit and then safely land. Perhaps the greatest gem of the workhorses, these beautiful spaceships, is the space station," Johnson said.
The overnight rollout marked the 26th time Endeavour had made the trek from assembly building to the pad. In the next few hours and days, the methodical process of hooking up the crew module assess and hydrogen vent arms extending from the launch tower, as well as electrical, propellant, communications and other lines between the ground systems and mobile launch platform will begin.
A test of the orbiter's three auxiliary power units for the hydraulics will be conducted before the gantry-like rotating service structure is placed around Endeavour.
0849 GMT (3:49 a.m. EST)The mobile launch platform is "harddown" on the pad pedestals, marking the official arrival of Endeavour at pad 39A.
0834 GMT (3:34 a.m. EST)The platform is slowly inching down to the pedestals.
0820 GMT (3:20 a.m. EST)Measurements taken verify the platform is a good position. The rollout crew is ready to lower the crawler down.
0811 GMT (3:11 a.m. EST)The Apollo-era crawler has finished tonight's drive from the Vehicle Assembly Building, delivering space shuttle Endeavour atop launch pad 39A. But the rollout's official conclusion time will be marked when the launch platform is lowered down and secured to the pad pedestals.
0802 GMT (3:02 a.m. EST)The crawler is getting the mobile launch platform positioned over the pad pedestals where Endeavour will be perched for April 19 blastoff.
0745 GMT (2:45 a.m. EST)Endeavour has ascended the incline to launch pad 39A, its crawler-transporter having used massive hydraulic pistons to keep the mobile platform level.
Now atop the pad surface, a precision laser guidance system will help align the platform over the pad pedestals. The crawler will lower the platform onto the pedestals to complete the rollout.
0725 GMT (2:25 a.m. EST)The crawler transporter is climbing the concrete ramp to the launch pad with space shuttle Endeavour.
0700 GMT (2:00 a.m. EST)Endeavour has reached the pad perimeter gate.
0645 GMT (1:45 a.m. EST)The crawler is making the curve to reach the entrance to launch pad 39A.
0605 GMT (1:05 a.m. EST)Check out these photos of Endeavour leaving the VAB taken by Spaceflight Now tonight.
0550 GMT (12:50 a.m. EST)Endeavour has passed by the Kennedy Space Center's Visitor Center observation gantry as the rollout proceeds smoothly. That's where the crawlerway forks into two pathways -- go left to pad 39B or straight ahead to pad 39A.
0542 GMT (12:42 a.m. EST)The crawler is in motion again.
0535 GMT (12:35 a.m. EST)The lubing continues as Endeavour remains at a stand-still. The team hopes to get the move underway again shortly.
0453 GMT (11:53 p.m. EST Thurs.)The crawler is stopping again to apply some more bearing grease.
0400 GMT (11:00 p.m. EST Thurs.)Hauling the shuttle stack out to launch pad 39A on this 3.5-mile trek is one of NASA's two Apollo-era crawler-transporters. The combined weight of the transporter, mobile launch platform and shuttle Endeavour is 17.5 million pounds.
The stone-covered pathway connecting the VAB to the launch pad is 130 feet wide -- almost as broad as an eight-lane highway. Two 40-foot-wide lanes are separated by a 50-foot-wide median strip. The average depth is seven feet.
About 30 people are aboard the transporter to operate it during the rollout, including three drivers -- a prime and backup in the front cabin and one in the rear -- a jacking and leveling operator, a control room operator to run crawler systems and talk with the Launch Control Center, two electricians, two electronic technicians and four diesel mechanics for starting, monitoring and shutting down the transporter's engines. The other team members are mechanics watching over the roll and helping with the platform's docking to the launch pad.
The transporter consumes 126 gallons of diesel fuel in each mile it travels from the VAB to pad. The vehicle has a fuel capacity of 5,000 gallons.
0307 GMT (10:07 p.m. EST Mon.)The crawler is moving again.
0302 GMT (10:02 p.m. EST Mon.)This pause was ordered so the rollout crew can grease a hot bearing.
0255 GMT (9:55 p.m. EST Mon.)Now two hours into the rollout, the crawler has been stopped the past few minutes.
0150 GMT (8:50 p.m. EST Thurs.)A giant crowd space center employees and their family members gathered along the crawlerway as space shuttle Endeavour heads eastward tonight.
Officials handed out several hundred car passes for workers to escort viewers to Endeavour's final rollout.
0120 GMT (8:20 p.m. EST Thurs.)Space shuttle Endeavour has emerged from the 52-story landmark Vehicle Assembly Building where it spent the past 10 days getting attached to the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters.
0055 GMT (7:55 p.m. EST Thurs.)ROLLOUT BEGINS. The crawler-transporter has started moving the space shuttle Endeavour from the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building to Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A for the ship's final flight before retirement.
0051 GMT (7:51 p.m. EST Thurs.)The gate just outside the VAB on the crawlerway is being opened now to let Endeavour out.
0050 GMT (7:50 p.m. EST Thurs.)All is in readiness for rollout to begin.
0046 GMT (7:46 p.m. EST Thurs.)The mobile launch platform has been jacked to travel height for leaving the Vehicle Assembly Building. First motion of rollout expected very shortly.
0040 GMT (7:40 p.m. EST Thurs.)The crawler is literally picking up the space shuttle's launch platform from the VAB pedestals.
0035 GMT (7:35 p.m. EST Thurs.)Check out Spaceflight Now's Facebook page!
0018 GMT (7:18 p.m. EST Thurs.)Permission has been granted for the crawler-transporter to start hydraulically lifting the mobile launch platform off of the Vehicle Assembly Building pedestals.
0015 GMT (7:15 p.m. EST Thurs.)Observers are being deployed to their locations around the Vehicle Assembly Building for monitoring the shuttle's departure.
0012 GMT (7:12 p.m. EST Thurs.)Final ground umbilicals between the mobile launch platform and the Vehicle Assembly Building have been unplugged.
THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2011Weather remains acceptable for tonight's rollout of the space shuttle Endeavour. The forecasters' latest update calls for south-southwesterly winds of 14 peaking to 20 knots, scattered clouds and no rain. After the shuttle gets to the overnight, the winds are expected to shift around to the north and increase to 18 peaking to 25 knots. But all of that is within limits. And the temperatures will start at 66 degrees and fall to 48 degrees F during the rollout operation.
2359 GMT (6:59 p.m. EST)
2345 GMT (6:45 p.m. EST)After a very wet and rainy day, the clouds have parted for a beautiful sunset here at the Kennedy Space Center. Workers begin arriving with their families at the special viewing site arranged outside the VAB tonight. And news photographers are boarding the bus for the ride across the street from the press site to the VAB for covering tonight's rollout.
2306 GMT (6:06 p.m. EST)The crawler has propelled itself into place below the shuttle. Later in the preparations, the crawler's hydraulics will lift the shuttle platform off the VAB pedestals.
2235 GMT (5:35 p.m. EST)The rollout team is getting the crawler-transporter moved into the Vehicle Assembly Building and positioned beneath shuttle Endeavour's mobile launch platform.
2227 GMT (5:27 p.m. EST)The crawler-transporter is in motion.
2200 GMT (5:00 p.m. EST)The crew for the crawler-transporter, which is parked just outside, has gotten the giant machine fired up and ready for tonight's operations. The crawler should be ready to drive into the Vehicle Assembly Building shortly to pick up the shuttle for this heavy-lifting move to the pad.
2100 GMT (4:00 p.m. EST)It is call-to-stations time for the rollout team. The various members are reporting for duty to begin the final four hours of preparations leading to tonight's planned 8 p.m. EST first motion of the space shuttle rollout.
2035 GMT (3:35 p.m. EST)After a one-day delay in rolling space shuttle Endeavour from the Vehicle Assembly Building to launch pad 39A due to the forecast of bad weather, meteorologists are predicting acceptable conditions for tonight's move starting at 8 p.m. EST.
The outlook calls for no chance of lightning and only a 10 percent chance of rain for the late-night trip.
Technicians and engineers working the rollout will report for duty at 4 p.m. to begin the sequence of activities leading up to the move.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2011The shuttle Endeavour was securely fastened to its bullet-shaped external fuel tank Wednesday morning, two days after the ship left its hangar and rolled into the Vehicle Assembly Building in a major milestone before launch.
The 100-ton spaceship was hoisted into position near three attach points on the external tank Tuesday afternoon, several hours later than scheduled because of trouble connecting a specially-built yellow sling to the back of the shuttle.
The orbiter rolled into the 52-story assembly building Monday morning, and engineers initially planned to hook up the metal sling and lift Endeavour off a 76-wheel transporter by Monday evening. But workers ran into problems connecting the apparatus to the orbiter.
After removing the sling, replacing a part and hooking it up again, technicians were finally able to lift Endeavour from the transporter and rotate the orbiter vertical before sunrise Tuesday.
A heavy-duty crane raised the stubby-winged spaceship from the floor of the VAB around 11 a.m. EST Tuesday, reaching nearly the top of the voluminous structure before moving through an aperture into the building's northeast high bay.
The crane carefully lowered Endeavour next to its fuel tank and solid rocket boosters Tuesday afternoon. The tank and strap-on solid motors were already stacked on top of a mobile launch platform.
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TUESDAY, MARCH 1, 2011The crane has spotted the orbiter a matter of inches away from the attachment points on the external fuel tank. Technicians will get to work on the multi-hour task of connecting Endeavour to the tank.
1805 GMT (1:05 p.m. EST)The orbiter is being lowered -- slowly and precisely -- to slide between work platforms and the external fuel tank. There's very tight clearances for the crane operators to navigate. Once in position, Endeavour will be lined up for mounting onto the tank.
1645 GMT (11:45 a.m. EST)Endeavour has been maneuvered into the bay where the external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters are stacked and waiting aboard a mobile launching platform for launch.
1607 GMT (11:07 a.m. EST)Lifting of Endeavour up and over the transom from the transfer aisle to High Bay 3 has begun.
1555 GMT (10:55 a.m. EST)After sitting on its transporter all day and all night because of a problem, the space shuttle Endeavour finally went vertical this morning at about 5 a.m. EST. Crews in the VAB had a problem with the right-aft connection point when hooking up the lifting sling.
But the situation has been fixed and preparations to hoist the orbiter are underway again. Just a short time ago, the Endeavour was rolled 45 degrees to the proper orientation to enter the assembly cell.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2011Here's another photo gallery showing shuttle Endeavour pulling into the Vehicle Assembly Building a little while ago.
1742 GMT (12:42 p.m. EST)
1620 GMT (11:20 a.m. EST)IN THE VAB! Moving a major step closer to its final spaceflight before retirement, shuttle Endeavour has completed this morning's trek from the hangar to the nearby Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center.
Endeavour just rolled to a stop inside the cavernous building where the ship will be mated to its external fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters over the next few days.
A metal "sling" is standing by to grab ahold of Endeavour this afternoon, lifting the shuttle from the transport hauler that carried it from the hangar. A heavy-duty crane will rotate the spacecraft vertically, then begin the methodical process of hoisting the ship high into the rafters, over to the assembly bay and carefully lowering Endeavour into position next to the awaiting fuel tank for attachment.
Once the completed vehicle is fully mated together, the comprehensive Shuttle Interface Test to check the electrical and mechanical connections between the orbiter, tank and boosters will begin.
Rollout of Endeavour to pad 39A is targeted for March 10. That'll be followed by a special fueling test on March 22 and delivery of the mission payloads to the seaside complex on March 24 for insertion into the orbiter. A countdown dress rehearsal with the astronauts climbing aboard the shuttle is planned for April 1 to practice the final three hours of a launch day simulation.
Veteran shuttle commander Mark Kelly will lead the STS-134 crew that includes pilot Greg Johnson, mission specialists Mike Fincke, Roberto Vittori, Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff.
Endeavour's mission carries the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer astrophysics experiment and another external parts platform for attachment to the station.
See the mission timeline.
Plans call for the countdown to begin ticking April 16 and liftoff to occur on April 19 at 7:48 p.m. EDT (2348 GMT).
Landing back at Kennedy Space Center after a 14-day mission is targeted for May 3 around 2:38 p.m. EDT (1838 GMT).
1605 GMT (11:05 a.m. EST)Endeavour is crossing the threshold to enter the VAB.
1557 GMT (10:57 a.m. EST)The road trip to the Vehicle Assembly Building has resumed. This is the 25th time Endeavour has traveled into the landmark Vehicle Assembly Building to be stacked for launch since the maiden mission back in 1992.
1525 GMT (10:25 a.m. EST)Here's a photo gallery from this morning showing shuttle Endeavour leaving the processing hangar en route to the Vehicle Assembly Building for the ship's final launch in April.
1250 GMT (7:50 a.m. EST)The transporter has parked along the roadway connecting the hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building for this morning's tribute to Endeavour. Kennedy Space Center workers will have the next few hours to stop by and take pictures of the orbiter before it leaves on the 25th and final mission in a two decades of spaceflight.
1242 GMT (7:42 a.m. EST)The orbiter now on the move again, headed for another photo spot.
1232 GMT (7:32 a.m. EST)The transporter has stopped for a photo opportunity with the hangar crew.
1225 GMT (7:25 a.m. EST)Endeavour is now completely outside the hangar it has called home for the past five months. The spacecraft is riding aboard a special carrier vehicle, balanced atop two attach fixtures in the aft and one under its nose.
The Orbiter Transporter System hauls the shuttle between the hangar and VAB. You can envision the OTS as a yellow motorized trailer. The transporter is 106 feet in length, weighs 167,000 pounds unloaded and about 327,000 pounds with an orbiter on top and sports 76 wheels. It has a turning radius of 66 feet.
The top speed of the transporter while carrying Endeavour is five miles per hour. The V12 engine generates about 335 horsepower.
1217 GMT (7:17 a.m. EST)After stopping to remove the exhaust hose from the transporter, Endeavour is in motion once again. Thus far, only the orbiter's tail has emerged from the hangar.
1157 GMT (6:57 a.m. EST)ROLL BEGINS. Endeavour has begun to slowly back out of the hangar, bound for its stopover at the Vehicle Assembly Building in preparation to make one final space voyage before retirement.
This initial part of the move occurs at a snail's pace given the close quarters between Endeavour and the cocoon-like scaffolding inside the hangar that enclosed the ship. Once outside, the motorized transporter can throttle up to a casual walking pace.
1155 GMT (6:55 a.m. EST)The transporter's engine has revved to life. The roll should get underway shortly.
1150 GMT (6:50 a.m. EST)The hangar's sliding doors have opened up.
1130 GMT (6:30 a.m. EST)Endeavour will soon make the milestone move from the Orbiter Processing Facility bay No. 2 to the adjacent Vehicle Assembly Building for the final time. Kennedy Space Center employees, reporters and photographers are gathering to watch this initial step by the space shuttle toward its last trek to orbit.
Mounted atop a 76-wheel transporter, the Endeavour will be backed out of the space-age garage for the short drive into the Vehicle Assembly Building. The trip typically takes about 45 minutes. However, the transporter will stop and put the spacecraft on display for several hours so workers can see Endeavour up-close and take pictures this morning.
Arrival inside the VAB is expected late this morning. Technicians will be hoisting the spaceplane upright and attaching it to the external fuel tank and solid rocket boosters over the next few days.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2011The shuttle Endeavour will take its first steps toward space Monday when the ship moves a quarter-mile from its processing hangar to the Vehicle Assembly Building to join a burnt orange fuel tank and twin solid rocket boosters. Endeavour is scheduled to back out of Orbiter Processing Facility bay No. 2 around 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT) Monday on a 76-wheel transporter.
The 100-ton space plane has been inside the hangar since landing on its last mission in February 2010.
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