Dec. 1, 1998 NASA program managers set Dec. 3 as the official launch date for the STS-88 mission aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour. This is the first Shuttle mission dedicated to the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS), the largest and most complex international cooperative science and engineering venture in history.
The six-member flight crew will work to mate Endeavour's primary payload, the U.S.-made Unity connecting module, to the Russian-built Zarya control module during the 12-day mission. Zarya was launched on a Proton rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakstan on Nov. 20. While the STS-88 Flight Readiness Review was in progress, Russian flight controllers performed tests on Zarya's onboard systems and adjusted its orbital position.
The Flight Readiness Review, held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL, began Monday afternoon allowing all Shuttle and ISS project offices to evaluate the flight readiness of the astronaut crew, vehicle and cargo, along with the launch and mission control teams.
"Following Zarya's successful launch last week, it is now NASA's responsibility to begin the International Space Station assembly process," said NASA's Johnson Space Center Director George Abbey. "This flight will clearly demonstrate the unique capabilities of the Space Shuttle and of astronauts and cosmonauts to assemble large structures in space. STS-88 will showcase the Shuttle as the safe and reliable workhorse of the space station era and other future activities in Earth orbit."
Endeavour is scheduled for launch on Dec. 3 at 3:59 a.m. EST from launch pad 39A. The exact launch time will be determined during the final hour of the launch countdown as mission controllers pinpoint Zarya's exact orbital position. The mission is slated to last 11 days, 19 hours and 49 minutes. An on-time launch will lead to a Kennedy Space Center landing on Monday, Dec. 14, at 11:48 p.m. EST.
The STS-88 Mission Commander is Robert Cabana. The pilot is Fredrick Sturckow. Nancy Currie, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, Jerry Ross and James Newman will serve as mission specialists on this flight.
STS-88 will be the 13th flight of Shuttle Endeavour and the 93rd mission in Shuttle program history.
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