CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew launched at 6:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission will deliver the final segment to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory and a new crew member to the International Space Station.
Endeavour’s 16-day mission includes five spacewalks and the installation of two platforms outside the Japanese module. One platform is permanent and will allow experiments to be directly exposed to space. The other is an experiment storage pallet that will be detached and returned with the shuttle. During the mission, Kibo’s robotic arm will transfer three experiments from the pallet to the exposed platform. Future experiments also can be moved to the platform from the inside of the station using the laboratory’s airlock.
Shortly before liftoff, Commander Mark Polansky thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible.
“Endeavour has patiently waited for this,” said Polansky. “We’re ready to go, and we’re going to take all of you with us on a great mission.”