The shuttle Endeavour has launched late Friday on a 15-day
mission to visit the International Space Station for repairs and upgrades. VOA's
Brian Wagner reports from Miami.
Endeavour blasted into space, carrying
more than 6,500 kilograms of equipment and supplies for the International Space
Station. The crew of five men and two women took off in a rare evening launch
from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "Three, two, one. Booster ignition,
and liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour, preparing our home in space for a
larger international family. ... Houston now controlling."
The shuttle's payload includes equipment for two bedrooms, a bathroom,
kitchenette, exercise machine, as well as a recycling device to turn the
astronauts' urine into drinking water.
NASA officials say the additions will double the capacity of the space
station, allowing it to handle six astronauts as planned in the future.
The Endeavour mission also is set to include four space walks to
repair a joint on one of the station's solar wings.
The shuttle will bring home astronaut Gregory Chamitoff, who is being
replaced at the space station by Sandra Magnus.
The Endeavour mission is the first shuttle flight since NASA officials
delayed a planned mission of Atlantis to service the Hubble telescope earlier
this year. Officials now say the mission is likely to take place in April to
replace a scientific computer and other equipment on the space telescope.