June 12, 2009
Seven NASA astronauts are scheduled to launch aboard the space shuttle Endeavour on Saturday.
The crew will visit the International Space Station to finish construction and assembly of the Japanese Kibo Laboratory Complex. The shuttle will carry components for the Kibo Japanese laboratory's experiment and logistics modules. The payload carries the remaining components of the lab and astronauts will assemble something like a "front porch," or external facility, to conduct experiments in an exposed environment. A robotic arm will be attached to the Kibo's pressurized module so experiments can be placed outside the space station. The astronauts and the key pieces of the lab complex are ready for launch at 7:17 a.m. EDT. On Friday night, the STS-127 mission management team at Florida's Kennedy Space Center will decide whether to load the shuttle's external tank with fuel. Mark Polansky will command the shuttle and Douglas Hurley will pilot it. Tim Kopra will serve as the flight engineer and science officer. Mission specialists include Christopher Cassidy, Thomas Marshburn, David Wolf, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette. The mission will include five spacewalks. It marks the first voyage to space for Hurley, Cassidy, Marshburn, and Kopra. Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata will come back to Earth on the shuttle's return trip. The trip marks the 32nd flight to the International Space Station and the 23rd mission for Endeavour. The 16-day mission to the ISS is the last of three flights specifically aimed at completing the Japanese Kibo Lab Complex.
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