A transport container (left) with the Tranquility module and Cupola is hoisted into position at Launch Pad 39A for installation inside the cargo bay of the waiting shuttle Endeavour on Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. Launch of the STS-130 mission is set for Feb. 7.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. ? NASA?s space shuttle Endeavour is ready for its Sunday launch to the International Space Station ? a planned predawn liftoff that is expected to be the last time an orbiter lifts off in darkness.
The weather forecast is pristine for Endeavour?s upcoming launch from a seaside pad here at NASA?s Kennedy Space Center. Liftoff is set for 4:39 a.m. EST (0939 GMT), with an 80 percent chance of good weather.
?We?re in really good shape,? said Mike Moses, NASA?s shuttle integration manager, in a morning briefing. ?Everybody is ready to go.?
Endeavour?s launch is the first of NASA?s five final shuttle missions before the space agency retires its aging, three-orbiter fleet later this year.
The shuttle will launch six astronauts on a 13-day mission to deliver a new room and observation portal to the International Space Station.? It is the last major assembly job for the $100 billion space station, which has been under construction since 1998.
?Every launch is a little bittersweet because it?s one closer to the end,? Moses said.?
The new room, called Tranquility, will house station robotic arm controls, life support systems and exercise gear. It will also include the Cupola, a new seven-window observation portal launching on Endeavour that promises to give astronauts stunning views of the Earth and space.
Sunday?s predawn launch is also expected to be the last time a space shuttle will blast off in darkness. Weather permitting, it is expected to be visible from much of the eastern United States.
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SPACE.com is providing complete coverage of Endeavour?s STS-130 mission to the International Space Station with Managing Editor Tariq Malik in Cape Canaveral and Staff Writer Clara Moskowitz in New York. Click here for shuttle mission updates and a link to NASA TV.