Shuttle Endeavour Moves to Launch Pad for June Mission

Shuttle Endeavour Moves to Launch Pad for June Mission
At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, space shuttle Endeavour makes its final approach toward the fixed and rotating service structures on Launch Pad 39A, at left, on May 31, 2009. The shuttle is due to launch June 13 toward the ISS. (Image credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett.)

The spaceshuttle Endeavour rolled from one Florida launch pad to another on Sunday inpreparation for a complicated June construction flight to the International Space Station.

NASA parkedEndeavour atop the seaside Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in CapeCanaveral., Fla., at 11:42 a.m. EDT (1542 GMT) after a more than eight-hourtrek from its previous perch.

Endeavouris scheduled to blast off on June 13 to deliver a porch-like experiment platformto the space station that will complete the outpost?s Japanese Kibolaboratory. Five spacewalks are planned for the marathon 16-day mission toinstall and outfit the new experiment porch and deliver vital spare parts.

NASA movedEndeavour to Pad 39A from the nearby Launch Pad 39B, where it had been onstandby to fly a rescuemission for astronauts aboard its sister ship Atlantis in case anunexpected emergency occurred during their recent mission to overhaul theHubble Space Telescope. No rescue was needed and Atlantis landed safely inCalifornia on May 24, but bad weather has delayed its ferry flight back atop amodified jumbo jet.

Launch pads39A and 3B are only one mile (1.6 km) apart from point to point, but NASA?s massiveApollo-era crawler carrier vehicle had to haul the 100-ton Endeavour along a3.4-mile (5.4-km) path that links the two launch sites. It was only the fourthtime in NASA?s 28-year history of shuttle flight that a shuttle swapped launchpads.

Endeavour?smove also marked the last time in history a shuttle was parked atop Pad 39B.NASA is converting the shuttle launch site to host its new AresI rocket and Orion crew capsules. Substantial modifications are requiredbefore the first planned test flight, Ares I-X, no earlier than Aug. 30.

The cargo forEndeavour?s mission was already at awaiting the orbiter?s arrival at Pad 39A.It will be moved into the shuttle?s 60-foot (20-meter) payload over the nextweek, NASA officials said.

Endeavour?sseven-astronaut crew, commanded by veteran spaceflyer Mark Polansky, is dueclimb into the shuttle on Thursday during a launch dress rehearsal and an emergencyescape drill.

The shuttle?sSTS-127 mission to the space station will mark NASA?s third shuttle flight offive planned in 2009.

  • Video - Emergency Drill: Danger on the Launch Pad!
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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.