Update 4: I’ve replaced the original NASA TV footage below with the official STS-127 launch HD footage.
Update 3: STS-127 launch footage from NASA TV
Update 2: Check out the amazing launch photos from Flying Jenny.
Update 1: 22:11:40 UT – Main Engine Cut-off (MECO)
July 15, 2009 at 22:03:10 UT, after two launch scrubs on June 13 and June 17 due to gaseous hydrogen leak on a vent line near the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, the saturday’s 24-hour delay to allow technical teams additional time to evaluate lightning strikes. and the July 12 and July 13 scrubs due to unacceptable weather forecast for a possible Return To Launch Site (RTLS) abort, NASA successfully launched the Space Shuttle Endeavour on its its 23rd mission – the 10th to the International Space Station (ISS). Seven crew members of STS-127, commanded by NASA veteran Mark Polansky (STS-98, STS-116), will stay in space 15 days 16 hours and 42 minutes and land at the Kennedy Space Center at 14:45 UTC on July 31. Mission specialists Dave Wolf, Chris Cassidy, Tom Mashburn and Tim Kopra will combine for 31 hours and 45 minutes during 5 planed spacewalks (EVA). Endeavour will dock to the forward docking port at the end of the station’s Harmony module in two days.
Julie Payette (STS-96) will return to the ISS after 10 years as a mission specialist operating the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS) aka Canadarm (Canadarm 1) and the Mobile Servicing System (MSS), better known by its primary component Canadarm2. In a meeting of generations, Julie Payette and Robert Thirsk (55) of Expedition 20, a member of the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) committee which selected her from a pool of 5,330 applicants, will be the first two Canadian astronaut in space at the same time.
STS-127 will be the first spaceflight for the shuttle pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Christopher Cassidy (who will, based on where he sits on the shuttle, become the 500th person in history to fly into space) , Tom Marshburn and Tim Kopra. Mission specialist Dave Wolf has never flown the shuttle but has spent 128 says aboard the Russian space station MIR. Koichi Wakata (STS-119) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will return to Earth and Tim Kopra will join the crew of Expedition 20 as a flight engineer where he will remain until Nicole Stott of STS-128 will take his place.
The STS-127 mission will deliver to the station the final 2 modules of the Japanese Kibo (means “hope”) complex where science experiments will be exposed to the extreme environment of space. The first module, the Exposed Facility (EF) is a platform to perform experiments in the vacuum of space and will be attached to the Japanese pressurized module. The other module, the Exposed Section (ES) serves as a carrier for three large payloads which will be mounted to the EF during the mission.
The rest of the payload consists of:
- the Integrated Cargo Carrier (ICC-VLD) to provide heater power and electrical connections for the Orbital Replacement Units (ORU’s) and to deliver 9 large spare parts for the exterior of the space station
- the Atmosphere Neutral Density Experiment’s (ANDE) two microsatellites to gather data on the density the composition of Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) atmosphere
- the Dual RF Astrodynamic GPS Orbital Navigator Satellite (DRAGONSat) to collect GPS data on autonomous spacecraft rendezvous and docking capabilities, and finally
- the Shuttle carries also a resupply of water, food and oxygen for the station
One of the STS-127 Detailed Test Objectives (DTO’s) (which are aimed at testing, evaluating or documenting systems or hardware or proposed improvements to hardware, systems and operations) is to perform a series of tests to investigate the DragonEye laser navigation sensor, SpaceX’s Dragon vehicles will use on approach to the ISS. NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO) – yes, it really is C3PO – is financing the experiment for SpaceX, a space transportation startup company, in NASA’s effort to stimulate a commercial market for spaceflight services. The SpaceX Dragon should be capable of carrying seven people or a smaller crew with cargo to the ISS. SpaceX also will perform a ground-based space qualification program to ensure the sensor can withstand the rigors of launch and operation in a space environment.
Mission’s commander Mark Polansky will be the sending updates to his Twitter account via shuttle-NASA emails. 24/7 coverage of the STS-127 mission will be available on NASA TV. You can also follow the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the ISS in real time through NASA’s real time tracking. Information about out about visible ISS passes at your location is available from heavens-above.
The next mission to the ISS will be STS-128, the 33rd construction flight, planned to launch on August 7 at 13:07 UTC (but now very likely to be pushed back because of the STS-127 launch delays). Shuttle Discovery will carry a Lightweight Multi-Purpose Experiment Support Structure Carrier and the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (Leonardo) whose main purpose is to assist with establishing a six-man crew capacity by providing extra supplies and equipment to the station.
Endeavour next flight is scheduled for February 4, 2010. The STS-130 mission (assembly flight 20A) will deliver the Tranquility Node 3 and the Cupola Module to the station. The shuttle’s last visit to space is planned for July 29, 2010. During STS-133 (assembly flight ULF5) the ISS will be extended with the EXPRESS Logistics Carrier 4 (ELC4) and Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM).