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
- SPACE.com Video Interplayer: Space Station Power Up with NASA's STS-117
- Complete Shuttle Mission Coverage