14 March 2008

122 down, 123 up

One of the problems with having to use the public library's computers for Internet access is that I'm running so far behind. One thing I failed to note was that space shuttle Atlantis and its crew, launched on 7 February, had successfully completed their mission (STS-122) and landed at the Kennedy Space Center on 20 Feb.

Atlantis was followed into space on the morning of 11 March by space shuttle Endeavour (mission STS-123). ZUI this NASA press release, dated 11 Mar 08:
Space shuttle Endeavour brought an early sunrise to the East Coast Tuesday, launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 2:28 a.m. EDT and beginning the STS-123 mission to the International Space Station.

During the 16-day flight, Endeavour's seven astronauts will work with the three-member space station crew and ground teams around the world to install the first section of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency's two-armed robotic system, known as Dextre. STS-123 is the longest shuttle mission to the station and will include a record five shuttle spacewalks at the orbiting laboratory, delivery of a new crew member to the complex and the return of another astronaut after nearly seven weeks aboard the station.

Endeavour's crew consists of commander Capt Dominic L Gorie (USN, ret), pilot Col Gregory H Johnson (USAF) and mission specialists Maj Robert L Behnken (USAF), Capt Michael J Foreman (USN), Dr Richard M Linnehan and Takao Doi. The shuttle also ferried astronaut Garrett E Reisman up to replace station crew member Gen Léopold Eyharts (French AF), who went up with STS-122; Reisman will return to Earth on shuttle Discovery (mission STS-124), which is targeted for launch on 25 May.

Left to right: Foreman, Reisman, Behnken, Doi, Linnehan, Johnson and Gorie

In other news from NASA, the Cassini spacecraft performed a flyby of Saturn's moon Enceladus on 12 March, passing within 50 kilometers (30 miles) of the surface at closest approach.

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