SEARCH

Entries in Space Shuttle Endeavour (11)

Saturday
May212011

Pope Benedict Makes Historic Call to Astronauts

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The crew onboard the International Space Station received a special call on Saturday morning, a call from Pope Benedict XVI.

In the first ever call by a pope to astronauts orbiting in space, Pope Benedict heaped praises on the Endeavour crew and expressed his admiration for their work.

“This conversation gives me the chance to express my own admiration and appreciation to you and to all those who collaborate in making a mission possible and my heartfelt encouragement to bring it to a safe and successful conclusion,” the pope said.

Pope Benedict called the space station around 7:11 a.m. EST and during his conversation he also made special mention of Commander Mark Kelly’s wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recovering after being shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January.

“I know that Mark Kelly's wife was a victim of a serious attack and I hope her health continues to improve,” Pope Benedict said.

Kelly then expressed his gratitude to the Roman Catholic leader saying, “Thank you for the kinds words your holiness and thank you for mentioning my wife Gabby.”

Endeavour’s journey to space marks the second-to-last flight for NASA's space shuttle program. The shuttle's crew are on a 16-day mission, where they will install a $2 billion alpha magnetic spectrometer on the ISS, that could prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of how the universe was formed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May152011

Astronaut: Space Shuttle Launch 'Like Going into Combat' 

NASA/Kim Shiflett(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The number is bleak and every astronaut who flies into space knows it: There is a one in 75 chance they will not return home.
 
Mike Fincke, who will set a U.S. record for time in space, 380 days, during STS 134 Endeavour's mission scheduled launch Monday, said the risk became more real to him when he became a father.

"I know it is risky, but I have chosen to do this because of what we learn," he said. "Think of everything you have that makes life easier -- smart phones, wifi, that is the result of microelectronics developed for the space program. Whole worlds are opened up to my children because of the Internet."

The memory of the Columbia accident in 2003 is still vivid for them -- the seven astronauts were colleagues, and friends. If it were not for the Columbia accident the space shuttle program would probably not be ending this year.

Greg Johnson, Endeavour's pilot, is cool, competent with a devilish sense of humor and a calm acceptance of the danger ahead.

"I feel the risk, and I compare launching on the space shuttle a little like going into combat," he said. "Any sane astronaut will feel the fear, or concern just prior to liftoff. If they don't admit they are lying to you."

Johnson is a veteran fighter pilot; he flew 38 combat missions for the Air Force during Operation Desert Storm. He remembers sitting in Endeavour's cockpit before his first flight in 2008 waiting for the engines to ignite.

"I had a sense of wow, I don't have control over this, and I was hoping all the engineers and everybody that was on the team making this mission happen did their homework when they were in college," he said.

The explorers flying on Endeavour are led by Commander Mark Kelly, flying on his fourth mission. Kelly was thrust into the spotlight after the assassination attempt on his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, earlier this year.

He considered withdrawing from the mission to stay by his wife's side, but ultimately chose to command Endeavour's last flight, which is expected to be a complicated 16-day mission to deliver and install the $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a science platform to prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of the formation of our universe.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May142011

NASA: Endeavour Launch to Take Place Monday

RUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour looks to be on track for Monday morning.

NASA announced Saturday that crews were working through countdown milestones with no issues, with Endeavour scheduled for liftoff at 8:56 a.m. on Monday. The weather around launch time also appears to be in favor of the shuttle setting off on its final journey as scheduled, as NASA says forecasts call for a 70 percent chance of acceptable weather conditions around launch time.

Endeavour’s mission crew consists of Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

The shuttle's launch has drawn widespread attention as it's commanded by the husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January. Six people were killed and 13, including Giffords, were injured in the shooting.

The 14-day mission into space, when it happens, could yield new clues to the origin of the universe. The shuttle will carry a $2 billion alpha magnetic spectrometer, an instrument that will be installed on the space station. It could prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of how the universe was formed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May012011

NASA Postpones Endeavour Shuttle Launch Again

BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- NASA on Sunday postponed the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour for the second time, putting it off until at least the end of the week to replace a switch box in Endeavour's engine compartment.

The six astronauts, including Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, the commander of the mission, traveled back to Houston from Florida.

"Things happen fast. We are now all aboard [a plane] for return to Houston. Be back in a few days. More to follow," Endeavour pilot Gregory Johnson said today on his Twitter account. Johnson and Kelly were to be joined on the Endeavour with spacewalkers Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff, and Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori.

On Friday the space agency pushed back Endeavour's launch because the heater on one of the shuttle's three Auxiliary Power Units -- devices that power the shuttle's speed brakes, elevons and landing gear -- malfunctioned as the astronauts were getting ready to board for liftoff.

The second delay is a disappointment for thousands of spectators who flooded the Florida Space Coast, hoping to catch a glimpse of Endeavour's last launch. Kelly's wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, flew from rehab in Houston to see her husband go on what will probably be his last chance to travel in space.

"Bummed about the scrub!! But important to make sure everything on shuttle is working properly," Giffords' staff said via Twitter on Friday.

Giffords was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January that left six people dead and 13, including Giffords, injured.

The 14-day mission into space, when it happens, will be the last for the space shuttle Endeavour, and could yield new clues to the origin of the universe. The shuttle will carry a $2 billion alpha magnetic spectrometer, an instrument that will be installed on the space station. It could prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of how the universe was formed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr302011

NASA Technicians Working on Endeavour

PRNewsFoto/NASA(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Officials at NASA say the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour is now expected to take place no earlier than Monday afternoon.

The launch, which was originally scheduled for Friday, was postponed after the space agency said the heater on one of Endeavour's three Auxiliary Power Units (APU) malfunctioned as the astronauts were getting ready to board for liftoff.

On Saturday NASA said technicians at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A have drained the external fuel tank of more than 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and were expected to begin looking at a fuel line heater associated with the APU system around midday Saturday.

NASA says Endeavour’s launch is now planned for no earlier than 2:33 p.m. Monday.

Endeavour’s mission crew consists of Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

The shuttle's launch has drawn widespread attention because it's the second-to-last for the U.S. space shuttle program, and it's commanded by the husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January. Six people were killed and 13, including Giffords, were injured in the shooting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Apr242011

Gabrielle Giffords to Attend Shuttle Launch

Office of Gabrielle Giffords(NEW YORK) -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has reportedly been cleared by doctors to attend her husband’s space shuttle launch on Friday.

ABC News has confirmed that Giffords, who was injured in a shooting in Tuscon, Arizona on January 8, has received medical clearance to attend the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, scheduled for Friday at 3:47 p.m. EST in Florida. Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly is commanding the last flight of the space shuttle.

Sources tell ABC News Giffords is set to fly out to the Kennedy Space Center from Houston on Wednesday.

Kelly has said for weeks that he wanted his wife to attend the launch, and that Giffords had indicated to him she wanted to go.

Giffords was injured during a shooting spree while meeting with constituents outside of a Safeway grocery. Six people were killed in the shooting and 12 others were injured. Giffords survived a gunshot wound to the left hemisphere of her brain.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr202011

Obama Family to Attend Final Endeavour Space Shuttle Launch

The White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will attend the launch of the space shuttle Endeavor in Florida next Friday, April 29, a White House official confirms. Mr. Obama will be joined by the first lady and daughters Malia and Sasha for the space shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center.

The first family will watch as Space Shuttle Endeavour Commander Mark Kelly launches his six-person crew, set for 3:47 p.m. ET. His wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from the Tucson shooting in January, is still awaiting clearance from her doctors to attend the launch.

In February, Kelly had decided that he would pilot the flight, even while his wife is recovering.

“I absolutely thought this was the right thing for me to do,” Kelly said when announcing his decision/ “ I know her very well and she would be very comfortable with the decision that I made,"

The space shuttle launch will be the final flight for Endeavour.

Obama had already planned to be in Florida that day for a commencement address at Miami-Dade College.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Apr202011

NASA Won't Scuttle Shuttle Launch for Royal Wedding

NASA(HOUSTON) -- When NASA rescheduled the launch of shuttle Endeavour, the penultimate flight of the shuttle program, for April 29, all they were looking at was the mission.  Maybe they should have looked at the tabloids, too.

April 29 is, of course, when the royal wedding takes place across the pond -- the marriage of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

Endeavour was supposed to have lifted off April 19 but the date was pushed back ten days.

Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for space operations, acknowledged, "I didn't realize when the wedding was when we moved the launch date."

The NASA official said various things are weighed when making plans for launch, including technical, weather and international space agency constraints.  He then added, "I haven't yet put on our manifest charts 'wedding constraints' so we did not factor that in."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar142011

Worker Plunges to His Death at Kennedy Space Center

BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- A worker fell to his death at the Kennedy Space Center on Monday in what was believed to be the facility's first non-flight emergency in decades.

United Space Alliance engineer James D. Vanoverff fell from scaffolding -- some of which sits 200 feet above the ground's surface -- while working on the space shuttle Endeavor around 7:40 a.m. Monday. Medics rushed to launch pad 39A, where the shuttle is being readied for its April 19 launch, but were unable to revive the man.

All work at the site has been suspended for the day as NASA conducts an investigation of the incident.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb042011

Mark Kelly Will Command Space Shuttle Endeavour in April

Photo Courtesy - NASA [dot] gov(HOUSTON) -- Mark Kelly will command space shuttle Endeavour when it launches for its final flight in April, ABC News confirmed Friday.

The space shuttle will take off for a 14-day mission to the International Space Station on April 19, marking what could be Kelly's last chance to fly in space.

Kelly has been with his wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, for every step of her month-long recovery.  She was nearly killed when she was shot in the head during a rampage in front of a Tucson grocery store on Jan. 8.

Last month, speaking on his decision to complete the final space mission, Kelly told ABC News, "Ideally I would like to have that conversation with Gabby.  I've flown in space three times.  I don't have to do it again.  My number-one goal is to make sure that my crew is safe and that they can execute this mission safely.  And that it's successful."

NASA, at Kelly's request, appointed a backup commander to train with the STS-134 crew should Kelly have decided not to go back up in space.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio