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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NASA Final Space Shuttle Night “Feb. 7”

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- Space shuttle Endeavour is set to begin a 13-day flight to the International Space Station with a Feb. 7 launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Liftoff is planned for 4:39 a.m. EST, making this the final scheduled space shuttle night launch.

Endeavour's launch date was announced Wednesday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems and procedures are ready.

Endeavour's flight will begin the final year of space shuttle operations. Five shuttle missions are planned in 2010, with the last flight currently targeted for launch in September.

Endeavour's mission will include three spacewalks and the delivery of the Tranquility node, the final module of the U.S. portion of the space station. Tranquility will provide additional room for crew members and many of the space station's life support and environmental control systems. Attached to the node is a cupola, which houses a robotic control station and has seven windows to provide a panoramic view of Earth, celestial objects and visiting spacecraft. After the node and cupola are added, the orbiting laboratory will be about 90 percent complete.

Commander George Zamka and his crew of five astronauts are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy at approximately 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 2, for final launch preparations. Joining Zamka on STS-130 are Pilot Terry Virts and Mission Specialists Kathryn Hire, Stephen Robinson, Nicholas Patrick and Robert Behnken. Virts will be making his first trip to space.

STS-130 will be Endeavour's 24th mission and the 33rd shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. For more information about STS-130, visit:

Patrick, who holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is sending updates about his training to his Twitter account. He plans to tweet from orbit during the mission. He can be followed at:

For more information on the space station, visit:

Crew Prepares: for Arrivals and Expansions

ISS022-E-026221: Soichi Noguchi

Image above: Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi services the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility/Marangoni Surface Core hardware in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Science and preparations for the arrivals of space shuttle Endeavour and a Russian cargo craft in February were the focus of the Expedition 22 crew’s activities Tuesday aboard the International Space Station.

After the crew’s daily planning conference with teams in the U.S., Russia, Germany and Japan, Commander Jeff Williams began his workday performing his fourth session with an experiment that studies changes in the astronauts’ aerobic capacity during long-duration spaceflight. NASA is interested in tracking these changes because a reduction in maximum oxygen uptake directly impacts a crew member’s ability to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks or emergency operations.

Working in the Japanese Kibo module, Flight Engineer Soichi Noguchi set up equipment in the Fluid Physics Experiment Facility for a study of the Marangoni effect, which is the flow of liquids caused by surface tension.

Flight Engineers Maxim Suraev and Oleg Kotov checked out the Kurs automated docking system, which will come into play when the ISS Progress 36 cargo craft docks with the Zvezda service module on the evening of February 4. The two cosmonauts also conducted a test of TORU, the Russian telerobotically operated rendezvous system. The crew can use TORU to monitor the docking of a Progress spacecraft with the station or take control of the process if difficulties arise.

Suraev also spent some time with a Russian study of plant growth in space as he photographed the experiment and downlinked the photos for researchers back on Earth. Meanwhile, Kotov prepared a vacuum chamber and installed software for the Plasma Crystal-3 Plus experiment, which studies the behavior of electrically-charged dust particles in a space environment.

After a break for lunch, Williams and Noguchi joined Flight Engineer T.J. Creamer for a timeline review of the STS-130 space shuttle mission, which is targeted to launch Feb 7. With the assistance of Expedition 22, the crew of Endeavour will conduct three spacewalks to install and outfit the Italian-built Tranquility node and the seven-windowed Cupola.

Afterwards, Creamer began reconfiguring the Water Delivery System to supply the Oxygen Generation System instead of the Potable Water Dispenser.

Last week the station crew received personal access to the Internet and the World Wide Web for the first time. Williams, Noguchi and Creamer took some time Sunday to record their thoughts on this milestone and talk about how they will use this access to inform the public about their activities. Also, Jeff Williams responded to some questions he received on YouTube concerning the station’s orientation, life in space and the recent butterfly experiment.