Space shuttle Endeavour is officially on its way to the International Space Station on its STS-134 mission and final flight. Endeavour lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on time at 8:56 a.m. EDT, soaring through a few clouds, after a relatively smooth countdown.
“I can’t thank the teams that got this vehicle ready to fly and for all the work they’ve done,” said Associate Administrator for Space Operations Bill Gerstenmaier referring to the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) heater issues and said, “The teams worked really hard to get through that, get it behind and to understand what the problem was — and it was no problem to us at all during the count.” “The teams stayed focused, and made this launch a success,”
Gerstenmaier added. “The mission in front of us is no easy mission, the EVAs (extra vehicular activities) are very demanding — but it’ll be exciting to see the AMS (Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer) get installed on the station and get some real research data for the ISS.”
“We showed our determination to succeed on a very complex mission,” said Michel Tognini, head of the European Astronaut Center and former ESA astronaut, “and this is the model of human exploration for the future.”
Mike Moses apologized (in jest) about the view not being the best and the longest because of the cloud cover.” But the data that we were looking at in the launch center was absolutely perfect,” said Moses. “We had the clouds where we needed them, so we went.”
There were a few minor problems, but they were managed and worked immediately, including the minor tile repair, reported Moses.
After every launch an award is given to one of the teams, according to Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach, and today’s honor was given to the combined APU repair/test team. “It was an outstanding countdown, lots of pats on the back in the lobby of the LCC (launch control center) afterwards when we were eating our beans and corn bread (a traditional post-launch snack),” said Leinbach. “Endeavour’s on orbit safely and it’s going to perform a great mission and we’ll see her back here on June 1.”
“It’s a great day here at Kennedy Space Center and for the Shuttle Program,” added Leinbach.