Space Shuttle Endeavour Heads to Space Station

Space shuttle Endeavour Image Above: Space shuttle Endeavour launches from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Credit: NASA TV

The STS-127 crew began its journey to the International Space Station at 6:03 p.m. EDT Wednesday when space shuttle Endeavour lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla. The shuttle crew will complete construction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and deliver a new crew member, astronaut Tim Kopra, to the orbital outpost.

› Read more about STS-127

The six-member Expedition 20 crew – Commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Mike Barratt, Koichi Wakata, Roman Romanenko, Bob Thirsk and Frank De Winne – continued preparations Wednesday for the shuttle’s arrival and worked on science experiments and station maintenance.

Padalka began his workday by activating the turbo-pump on the Plasma Crystal-3 Plus experiment, which studies the behavior of electrically charged dust particles in a space environment. Later, Padalka performed some troubleshooting on a power outlet in the Zvezda service module.

Barratt collected samples from surfaces throughout the station and tested them for microbial contamination. For this task, the crew uses LOCAD, the Lab-on-a-Chip Application Development-portable test system, which detects biological and chemical substances within 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Thirsk used the Microbial Air Sampler to check for bacterial and fungal contamination in the station’s atmosphere.

Wakata, who will return to Earth with the STS-127 crew, focused on operations with the InSpace 2 experiment, performing a run and exchanging sample vials. InSpace investigates fluids that change properties in response to magnetic fields. This technology could help engineers develop new brake systems and robotics and improve the ability to design structures, such as bridges and buildings, to better withstand earthquake forces.

Working in Zvezda, Romanenko conducted routine maintenance on the service module’s life-support system.

De Winne spent part of his day packing hardware that will be returned on the shuttle. Later he inspected and cleaned the smoke detectors in the Columbus module.

› Read more about Expedition 20
› View crew timelines

2009 International Space Station Calendar

As part of NASA's celebration of the 10th anniversary of the International Space Station, the agency is offering a special 2009 calendar to teachers, as well as the general public.

The calendar contains photographs taken from the space station and highlights historic NASA milestones and fun facts about the international construction project of unprecedented complexity that began in 1998.

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