Space Shuttle Astronauts Train for August Launch

Space Shuttle Astronauts Train for August Launch
The crew of the space shuttle Endeavour, from left, commander Scott Kelly, pilot Charles Hobaugh, mission specialists Alvin Drew Jr., and Rick Mastracchio, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Dave Williams and mission specialists Barbara Morgan and Tracy Caldwell pose for photos after a press conference at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, July 18, 2007. (Image credit: AP Photo/John Raoux.)

Sevenastronauts, including teacher-turned-spaceflyer Barbara Morgan, are taking aclose look at NASA's shuttle Endeavour as they train for an August launchtowards the International Space Station (ISS).

"Thisis the first time that all of us are together with Endeavour on the pad, so wereally look forward to some good training today," Endeavour's STS-118mission commander Scott Kelly told reporters Wednesday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center(KSC) in Florida. "We're looking forward to flying this vehicle in a fewweeks."

Kelly,Morgan and theirSTS-118 crewmates are slated to launch aboard Endeavour on Aug. 7 from KSC'sLaunch Pad 39A in Cape Canaveral, Florida. They are currently undergoingseveral days of final training to rehearse launch day activities, review missionand cargo plans, and practice emergency escape procedures.

"We'vebeen working really long and hard," said Morgan of her crew's training."We're really excited and we look forward to a great flight."

Morgan, anIdaho schoolteacher, has waited for more than two decades for the upcomingspaceflight. She was first chosen in 1985 as a backup flyer for New Hampshireschoolteacher Christa McAuliffe during NASA's Teacher in Space program.McAuliffe and six NASA astronauts died during NASA's 1986Challenger accident.

"I'vedefinitely thought about Christa and the whole Challenger crew," Morgansaid. "Those folks are with us this year and they've been with us everysingle day of training."

Endeavour'splanned11-day mission will deliver cargo, spare parts and a new piece of the spacestation's starboard truss framework, mission managers have said. The missioncould be extended by three days depending on the success of a new systemdesigned to allow Endeavour to draw power from the ISS, they added.

In additionto Kelly and Morgan, Endeavour is slated to carry shuttle pilot Charles Hobaughand STS-118 mission specialists Tracy Caldwell, Rick Mastracchio, Alvin Drewand Canadian Space Agency astronaut Dave Williams into orbit next month.

"Ithink the best part so far, besides all the camaraderie that we've experiencedbeing so close to launch, is the drive we had yesterday in the tank," saidCaldwell, referring to NASA'sM-113 armored personnel carrier designed to carry astronauts away from thelaunch pad in an emergency. "I don't think anything can beat that sofar."

  • NASA's STS-118: Teaching the Future Through ISS Assembly
  • Video Interplayer: Space Station Power Up with NASA's STS-117
  • Complete Shuttle Mission Coverage


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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.