Endeavour’s launch into space is NASA’s next-to-the last mission of the Space Shuttle program. Shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters says the odds of good launch weather are at 80-percent.
“If we happen to delay 24 hours, we actually have more of a cross-wind concern. A high pressure area starts to build into our north, and wind shift around more easterly. So with that, we have a 30-percent chance of KSC weather prohibiting launch.”
STS-134 crew pose for a photograph following their arrival at Kennedy Space Center. From left are Mission Specialists Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel, Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson, Mission Specialist Mike Fincke and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori. Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls. April 26, 2011.
Endeavuor will carry a 2-billion dollar particle physics experiment to the International Space Station, along with a load of space station parts. Shuttle launch director Mike Linebach says everyone is excited, but focused on the mission that has attracted the president and his family.
“We’re taking all options under consideration and deconflicting every one of them. And different locations at the Kennedy Space Center are up for grabs and we’ve worked every one of them. So again, until the plan is final, we don’t even know where he’s gonna be exactly.”
White House protocol will determine the president’s location, but Linebach says one place he won’t be is at mission control.
“In my chair? No. (laughter) I can tell you where he won’t be. (laughter) I don’t want to do his job and I’m sure, he wouldn’t want to do mine.”
Launch manager Mike Moses says they’re excited that Arizona congresswoman Gabriella Giffords is allowed to witness the launch of her husband, shuttle Commander Mark Kelly.
“There’s gonna be a lot of extra outside attention placed on it, but she’s NASA family and we’re treating her just like we do all of the rest of the crew families. And so, we’re obviously very pleased she’s coming to launch and supporting Mark and his flight, just like we’re pleased that every member of the family gets to come down here and witness the majesty for lack of a better word, of the lift off of the shuttle. It’s a pretty impressive thing to see.”
The 30-year shuttle program will end this summer with the flight of Atlantis in June.