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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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RE: The Future of the US space program
By tehas on 3/12/2008 3:40:49 AM , Rating: 2
McCain has come out in support of the President's Space Exploration Outline and supports funding NASA to see it continue.

RE: The Future of the US space program
By Ringold on 3/12/2008 2:35:40 PM , Rating: 2
So then, Hillary with no apparent comment, Obama is flip-flopping between a 5 year delay (which would be the equivalent of a death sentence) and crippling manned space exploration by only developing Ares I and Orion (Ares V being necessary to leave orbit), and McCain in support of completing the job. Go figure.

A quote from your link:

But Obama said he does not agree with the way the space program is now being run and thinks funding should be trimmed until the mission is clearer.

“NASA has lost focus and is no longer associated with inspiration,” he said. “I don’t think our kids are watching the space shuttle launches. It used to be a remarkable thing. It doesn’t even pass for news anymore.”

Translating from politician-speak, that's a death sentence. Every other problem politicians see they attempt to fix by throwing money at it. He wants to fix NASA's problems by defunding it. Short of better marketing, NASA's mission will never become "clearer" for him; besides, as President, it's mission is whatever he says it is, and thus is as clear or vague as he desires.

Oh well. We can all sit back and cheer the Chinese on as they build lunar bases.

By tehas on 3/12/2008 4:07:40 PM , Rating: 2
Not true.

If NASA and continued man exploration is important to you (as it is to me) then vote for McCain this November.

"Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours) in resources to create an Intel host controllers spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology." -- Intel blogger Nick Knupffer
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