Thu, 16 Jul 2009 12:00:01 PM UTC+1200
Endeavour is safely in orbit. Its 16-day mission includes 5 spacewalks and will complete the station's Japanese module.
Space shuttle Endeavour and its crew of seven astronauts are in orbit after an on-time launch at 6:03 p.m. EDT from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Following a smooth countdown with no technical issues and weather that steadily improved throughout the afternoon, the shuttle lifted off from Launch Pad 39A and began its orbital chase of the International Space Station.
"It was a testimony for this entire launch and flight control team," Launch Director Pete Nickolenko said of the countdown and successful liftoff, which came on the sixth launch attempt after technical issues and weather concerns prevented the first five tries. "It was an outstanding effort, and it made the complex look really easy. It really was a case of persistence."
Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Space Operations, also commended the launch effort, but cautioned that the mission to come is "very challenging," with five spacewalks and robotic activities scheduled. "The teams are fully prepared -- they're ready to go do what they need to go do, and we look forward to the exciting activities as we install the Exposed Facility out on the Kibo module."
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