Oct. 31, 2008 With two weeks to go before launch, the astronauts of space shuttle Endeavour are keeping up a thorough training schedule for the 15-day mission.
They are practicing for maneuvering the mobile base system on the International Space Station, which is the rail cart on the outside of the orbiting laboratory that moves the station’s robotic arm.
The astronauts, dressed in training versions of their pressure suits, are also practicing procedures to use when they reach orbit.
The busy flight to the station includes four spacewalks and the transfer and set-up of more than seven tons of equipment and supplies inside the orbiting laboratory.
To make sure the work is performed flawlessly, the astronauts have rehearsed almost every step on the ground. They have performed the four spacewalks repeatedly, simulated the launch in all conditions, and practiced joining the shuttle to the station in orbit.
Endeavour’s main payload is a space-age moving van called Leonardo that is stuffed with new crew quarters and the other equipment needed to enlarge the station’s resident crew to six members. The equipment includes a filtering system designed to filter wastewater to make it potable.
While the astronauts train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida continue a steady pace of preparations on Endeavour.
Endeavour is scheduled to launch Nov. 14 at 7:55 p.m. EST to begin its STS-126 mission.