Space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew launched at 6:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
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.”
Polansky is joined on STS-127 by Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Dave Wolf, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette and Tim Kopra. Kopra will replace space station crew member Koichi Wakata, who has been aboard the station for more than three months. Kopra will return to Earth during the next station shuttle mission, STS-128, targeted to launch in August 2009. Hurley, Cassidy Marshburn and Kopra are first-time space fliers.
Endeavour’s first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for Friday, July 31 at 10:45 a.m. STS-127 is the 127th space shuttle flight, the 29th to the station, the 23rd for Endeavour and the third in 2009.
NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of Endeavour’s mission. NASA Television features live mission events, daily mission status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv
NASA’s Web coverage of STS-127 includes current mission information, interactive features, news conference images, graphics and videos. Mission coverage, including the latest NASA TV schedule, also is available on the main space shuttle Web site at: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
Polansky will send updates about the mission from space to his Twitter account, Astro_127. He can be followed at: http://www.twitter.com/Astro_127
Live updates to the NASA News Twitter feed will be added throughout the shuttle mission and landing. To access the NASA News Twitter feed, visit: http://www.twitter.com/nasa
Daily news conferences with STS-127 mission managers will take place at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. During normal business hours of 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, reporters may ask questions from participating NASA locations. Please contact your preferred NASA facility before its daily close of business to confirm its availability before each event.