Monday, March 10, 2008

Shuttle Endeavour set for launch

The US Space Shuttle is set for launch early Tuesday. It is a swift turn around since the Space Shuttle Atlantis returned on the 20th February. The mission, STS-123, is set to send Endeavour to the International Space Station where it will deliver the first section of the Japanese-built Kibo laboratory [JEM] and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system called Dextre. Weather looks good for the proposed launch window which is due at 02:28 Florida time [06:28 GMT]. During its 16 day mission Eandeavour will spend 12 days at the ISS [NASA / BBC].

On Sunday the European Space Agency launched what has been called ‘space truck’ as part of its contribution to the International project [BBC]. The Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) is the biggest and most complex spacecraft Europe has ever tried to put in orbit.The 20-tonne unmanned freighter left the Kourou spaceport at 04:03 GMT on Sunday, on board an Ariane 5 rocket. The vessel will provide the largest refuelling and waste elimination capability for the ISS; and it is the only vehicle on the current timeline that will be able to de-orbit the $100 billion platform when it is retired sometime towards the end of the next decade. The freighter is currently sitting in a 260km high orbit and is due to deliver just under five tonnes of supplies to the space station on 3rd April. But there have been a few glitches that has forced engineers to rethink the module’s trajectory after one of the propulsion systems failed. Back up systems were put into action following the failure [BBC].

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