Spider – We Have Liftoff…
At 6:36 this evening, the Space Shuttle Endeavour will lift off after 4 1/2 years of being on the ground.
Endeavour will be carrying several experiments including one with 10 million basal cells in an attempt to see if they will grow in space as well as grow on earth after being weightless in space.
The shuttle will also be working to replace defective stabilizers on the International Space Station. Remembering that the Shuttle program will be phased out in 2010 with approximately fifteen (15) remaining flights, part of the goal of the remaining missions is to perform as much work on the Space Station as possible.
Endeavour has spent most of the 4 1/2 years it has been grounded here in the OPF – Orbiter Processing Facility – getting heat resistant tiles replaced, new computer systems and other upgrades. Endeavour is the newest of the shuttle fleet and only one (1) of three (3) remaining shuttles after the loss of Columbia and Challenger. The author thanks Brad for pointing out his error of my earlier post… The seven (7) person crew includes one (1) civilian – Barbara Morgan – a school teacher from Idaho who was Christa McAuliffe backup when she lifted-off on Columbia.
As a long time supporter of the space program, I have a problem with “civilians” being sent into space. This is far to dangerous of an occupation to send “non-professionals” into space. The shuttle program has prided itself on making public education a big part of the program – and bringing the program to the public – but there are better ways than sending schoolteachers into space. There are certainly enough educated and qualified individuals in the program.
So, make sure if you are near a TV or a computer this evening, make sure you tune into the launch is special and exciting and something to be watched.