Army astronaut blasts off on latest shuttle mission
November 17, 2008
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew, including an Army astronaut, lifted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 7:55 p.m. EST Friday to repair and remodel the International Space Station.
Endeavour's STS-126 mission is carrying about 32,000 pounds into space, which includes supplies and equipment necessary to double the crew size of the International Space Station from three to six members in Spring of 2009.
The new station cargo includes additional sleeping quarters, a second toilet, a water reclamation system and a resistance exercise device.
The mission's four planned spacewalks primarily will focus on servicing the station's two Solar Alpha Rotary Joints, which allow the outpost's solar arrays to track the sun. The starboard SARJ has had limited use since September 2007.
Shortly before launch, Commander Chris Ferguson thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible.
"It's our turn to take home improvement to a new level after 10 years of International Space Station construction," he said. "Endeavour is good to go."
Joining Ferguson on Endeavour's 15-day flight are Pilot Eric Boe and Mission Specialists Donald Pettit, Steve Bowen, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Lt. Col. Shane Kimbrough and Sandra Magnus.
Magnus will replace current station crew member Greg Chamitoff, who has lived on the outpost since June. She will return to Earth on Discovery's STS-119 mission, targeted for February 2009.