Space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew 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 will carry to space about 32,000 pounds, which includes supplies and equipment necessary to double the crew size from three to six members in spring 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, 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.
NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of Endeavour's mission, which is the 124th shuttle flight, the 22nd for Endeavour and the 27th shuttle mission to the station. NASA Television features live mission events, daily mission status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. NASA TV is webcast at: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
NASA's Web coverage of STS-126 includes current mission information, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos. Mission coverage, including the latest NASA TV schedule, also is available on the main space shuttle Web site at: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
Daily news conferences with STS-126 mission managers will take place at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Houston. During normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, reporters may ask questions from participating NASA locations. Please contact your preferred NASA facility by its daily close of business to confirm its availability before each event.
On Monday, Nov. 17, the mission status briefing at 3:30 p.m. EST will include NASA's International Space Station Program Manager Mike Suffredini. He will discuss the station's upcoming 10th anniversary. The station's first element, the Zarya module, was launched on Nov. 20, 1998. The briefing will originate from Johnson. NASA Television's Video File will broadcast highlights from the station’s past 10 years, beginning at 10 a.m. on Nov. 17.
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