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Space shuttle Endeavour lifts off on Mission STS-123 at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral  (Source: Reuters)
Endeavour launches carrying Japanese lab to ISS

Anyone who has seen a space shuttle launch on TV or in person will say that it is an awesome experience. Make that launch in the dark where all the flames show up even more than in the day light and you add a whole new element to the spectacle.

That’s just what happened with an unusual early morning launch this morning of the Space Shuttle Endeavour which lifted off at 2:28 a.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Endeavour is on a 16-day mission that involves taking part of a Japanese lab to the International Space Station (ISS).

The Japanese Kibo laboratory module is about the size of a double-decker bus according to Reuters and will be the stations largest laboratory once assembled. The Kibo lab will conduct experiments for biomedical studies, fluid physics research and life sciences.

The portion of the lab hefted into orbit by the Endeavour isn’t the largest portion of the Kibo lab, the largest part of the lab is set to launch in May and the final part of the Kibo lab is scheduled to be delivered next year. The labs final portion is an external porch for conducting experiments in a vacuum.

Once the Kibo lab is installed; all fifteen partner countries in the ISS will be represented in orbit. President of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Keiji Tachikawa said, “We finally became a real partner of the ISS project, not just one of the members on the list.”

The Endeavor is also carrying a Canadian-built robotic system named Dextre to the station. Dextre will add manual dexterity and 30 additional feet of reach to the existing crane aboard the ISS.

Another mission during the flight will have astronauts testing a new heat shield repair technique developed after the catastrophic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003.

The Shuttle Endeavor had its own close call in August of 2007 when a gouge on the underside of the shuttle raised concerns for reentry. The last shuttle trip to the ISS was conducted in February of 2008 by the Atlantis.



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Gotta see it
By SoCalBoomer on 3/11/2008 1:33:22 PM , Rating: 2
That's one thing I REALLY would like to do one day. . .see a launch, esp a night launch. . . sigh.




RE: Gotta see it
By FITCamaro on 3/11/2008 1:51:09 PM , Rating: 2
Better do it soon then. I've seen 8 launches live. Seven from the strip of land between KSC and the air base and one from outside the VAB. Three were night launches. I can tell you regardless of the time of day, its an awesome experience.


RE: Gotta see it
By inperfectdarkness on 3/11/2008 2:02:37 PM , Rating: 2
i wish i could have driven down from panama city to see it...but the USAF keeps me busy.


RE: Gotta see it
By stephenfs on 3/11/2008 2:08:29 PM , Rating: 2
First, thanks for the full size pic. Awesome!

And yes, nothing like seeing a launch. I live on the "Space Coast" (area code 321 - get it?) I'm sure I'm spoiled by stepping outside to see all the launches, but I love standing on the beach at night, seeing the night light up like dawn, then feeling the rumble as the sound waves finally reach you 1 minute later.

And every time the shuttle lands at KSC we get the 2 sonic booms that shake the windows and scare the crap out of you for several seconds.


RE: Gotta see it
By AlphaVirus on 3/11/2008 2:51:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I'm sure I'm spoiled by stepping outside to see all the launches, but I love standing on the beach at night, seeing the night light up like dawn, then feeling the rumble as the sound waves finally reach you 1 minute later.

That sounds really cool. Are you close enough to take a decent picture?


RE: Gotta see it
By danrien on 3/11/2008 2:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
they usually do replays of the launches on nasa tv.... not like seeing it in person i suppose, but it offers some consolation to those of us who can't afford a trip down to florida.


"I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For [Paramount] to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks!" -- Movie Director Michael Bay

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