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Endeavour Preview: Crew Preps For Monday Launch.

Nearly one month later, the space shuttle Endeavour is finally set to launch into space for the final time.

The crew from Endeavour's final mission will launch into space on Monday May 16, nearly a month from its original launch date. It was first delayed 10 days because of a scheduling conflict with a Russian spacecraft. Following that delay, it was pushed back indefinitely hours before the April 29 launch because of a problem with the heating auxiliary power unit-1 (APU-1).

It's finally ready to launch and the countdown is officially under way, as of 7 a.m. eastern time on Friday morning. The crew, which arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursay, woke up at 1 am eastern on Friday to continue preparations for the Monday launch. According to NASA, everything is on schedule and there have been no additional setbacks since the heating problem was fixed over the past few weeks.

"I'm really proud of our teams working so hard over the last couple of weeks," said NASA test director Spaulding. "All the teams here at Kennedy and all the other centers have done an outstanding job to get us ready for this launch on this historic and final flight of space shuttle Endeavour."

The weather for Monday calls for 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time. There may be storm disturbance around the time the rotating service structure is set to be rolled back on Sunady, but other than that, there seems to be nothing standing in the way of a successful final launch for Endeavour.

SMS-134 will cap a nice career for Endeavour. Since its first mission, Endeavour has traveled 116,372,930 miles, spent 283 days in space and has had a total of 4,423 orbits. Over the years, it has housed many of space related milestones.

It was the first to include four spacewalks, and then the first to include five.  One of its first missions, STS-67, set a length record almost two full days longer than any shuttle mission before it. Its airlock is the only one to have seen three spacewalkers exit through it for a single spacewalk. And in its cargo bay is where the International Space Station first started to be constructed.

Along with being the final trip for the space shuttle Endeavour also features commander Mark Kelly, husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was nearly shot to death earlier this year.  Giffords will be in attendance on Monday as her husband and crew launch into space.

During the 14-day mission, Endeavour and its crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for Dextre. After it finishes up, NASA will conclude the space shuttle program with the Atlantis. Following that, the three remaining space shuttles and a fourth prototype will head to museums across the country.

Follow Gabriel Perna on <a href="http://www.ibtimes.com/topics/detail/368/twitter">Twitter</a> at <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/GabrielSPerna" target="_blank">@GabrielSPerna</a>
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:May 13, 2011
Words:516
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