Sunday, November 16, 2008

Space Shuttle Endeavour to dock with ISS today

In fact, it's happening right now:

This mission is about expanding the International Space Station's capacity to hold a larger full time crew. Here is a photo of the Endeavour crew, and a summary of their mission:

Image above: These seven astronauts take a break from training to pose for the STS-126 crew portrait. Astronaut Christopher J. Ferguson, commander, is at center; and astronaut Eric A. Boe, pilot, is third from the right. Remaining crew members, pictured from left to right, are astronauts Sandra H. Magnus, Stephen G. Bowen, Donald R. Pettit, Robert S. (Shane) Kimbrough and Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper, all mission specialists. Image credit: NASA

Veteran space flier Navy Capt. Christopher J. Ferguson will command the STS-126 mission aboard Endeavour to deliver equipment to the International Space Station that will enable larger crews to reside aboard the complex. Air Force Lt. Col. Eric A. Boe will serve as the pilot. The mission specialists are Navy Capt. Stephen G. Bowen, Army Lt. Col. Robert S. Kimbrough, Navy Capt. Heidemarie M. Stefanyshyn-Piper and NASA astronauts Donald R. Pettit and Sandra H. Magnus.

Magnus will remain on the station, replacing Expedition 17/18 Flight Engineer Gregory E. Chamitoff, who returns to Earth with the STS-126 crew. Magnus will serve as a flight engineer and NASA science officer for Expedition 18. Magnus will return to Earth on shuttle mission STS-119.

Endeavour will carry a reusable logistics module that will hold supplies and equipment, including additional crew quarters, additional exercise equipment, equipment for the regenerative life support system and spare hardware.

STS-126 is the 27th shuttle mission to the International Space Station.

You can read more about the mission's specific tasks here:

Station Prepares for Expanding Crew
Expanding kitchen facilities, adding more bedrooms and an extra bathroom all sound like home improvements that many homeowners have tackled. But when the “house” is the International Space Station orbiting 220 miles above Earth, things are a little more complicated than visiting the local home improvement store for materials. Just in time for its 10th anniversary, the space station will get a delivery via space shuttle Endeavour that might win a prize for out-of-this-world home makeover.

When Endeavour and crew lift off on the STS-126 mission for the 27th shuttle flight to the station, it will be packed with supplies like food and clothing for the station crew members. However, Endeavour’s major payload consists of equipment for enlarging the space station’s capacity to accommodate a six-member crew. The high-tech home improvement materials are stowed inside the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module Leonardo, which will be tucked inside the shuttle’s cargo bay.

Some of the additions aboard will be: [...]

You can read the rest for the details, with photos too.

UPDATE: They have arrived!

Image above: The STS-126 crew is welcomed aboard the International Space Station by the Expedition 18 crew. Credit: NASA TV

Related Links:

Astronaut Donald Pettit
Our own Astronaut from Oregon. This is his official biography on the NASA website.

Astronaut Greg Chamitoff's Journal
A fascinating look at what the astronaut's life is like on the ISS.

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