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Space shuttle endeavour heads to International Space Station

[ 2010-02-09 11:50]     字号 [] [] []  
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Space shuttle endeavour heads to International Space Station

The space shuttle Endeavour blasted off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida before dawn, bound for the International Space Station.

Endeavour's last scheduled night launch went smoothly in the pre-dawn hours Monday. That is, smoothly for a launch that was set for Sunday, but postponed because of thick cloud cover.

Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach said the crew did not let the one-day delay have a negative impact on them.

"It was just a terrific countdown. The team was very energized going into this count," he said. "A little disappointed last night with the weather that got us, but we fought the weather last night, and it was just not the right time to launch yesterday, so we stood down, got into it today and it really rewarded everybody extremely well."

When they get to the International Space Station, the Endeavour crew will be delivering and installing a module known as Tranquility, which will provide additional room for crew members. Attached to Tranquility is a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center. NASA says this will provide a panoramic view of Earth and objects in space.

Two astronauts aboard Endeavour are set to conduct three space walks that will largely be devoted to installing Tranquility. Tranquility is the last major U.S. piece of the space station, and once it is added, the space station will be about 90 percent complete.

Leinbach sent off Endeavour's six-member crew Monday with good wishes for the planned 13-day mission.

"Wish you good luck, God speed, and we will see you back here in about two weeks," he said.

At the time of Endeavour's launch, NASA says the International Space Station was traveling at a speed of about eight kilometers-per-second, 340 kilometers above western Romania.

Endeavour is scheduled to dock with the station early Wednesday over the northern coast of Spain.

module: a unit of a spacecraft that can function independently of the main part (航天器上独立的)舱

panoramic: representing a continuous scene 全景的

Related stories:

Space shuttle Atlantis returns to Earth

Storms threaten Monday launch of space shuttle

Shuttle Endeavour lands in California after space station mission

Space shuttle Endeavour launch remains on track

(来源:VOA 编辑:陈丹妮)