US space shuttle Endeavour lifts off

March 11th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, March 11 (Xinhua) US space shuttle Endeavour lifted off early Tuesday from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, NASA TV reported. “All systems are working well … Endeavour is making its way to the International Space Station (ISS),” NASA’s launch blog said after the shuttle jettisoned its twin solid rocket boosters and shut down its three main engines as planned.

The Endeavour and its seven-member crew will spend 16 days in space, the longest visit by the space shuttle to the ISS.

Designated as STS-123, the mission is NASA’s second shuttle flight in 2008. It is delivering the first part of Japan’s orbital laboratory Kibo, a two-armed robot made by Canada, and a collection of experiments to the ISS.

Kibo, a Japanese word for “hope”, is a huge orbital laboratory that NASA will take to the ISS in three parts in as many shuttle flights.

The main part of the lab is scheduled to be taken to the ISS on the next shuttle mission in May. The final section, an outdoor porch with robotic arms, is due to fly next year.

The other important piece in Endeavour’s payload is a robot called Dextre. It was developed and built in Canada. The two-armed robotic system is designed to assist spacewalking astronauts with maintenance and construction duties outside the station.

Led by Commander Dominic Gorie, the Endeavour crew include Japanese astronaut Takao Doi.

During their 12-day stay at the ISS, the astronauts would undertake five spacewalks, the largest number by the crew of a visiting shuttle.

Spacewalkers will attach the first component of the Kibo complex and install Dextre to the outside of the station.

Mission specialist Garrett Reisman will move into the station for a long-duration mission. He will trade places with European Space Agency’s astronaut Leopold Eyharts, who arrived at the station aboard shuttle Atlantis in February.

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