Another bittersweet day for the American space program: All systems are go for the launch of space shuttle Endeavour, her last flight ever and the penultimate flight for the shuttle program. Watch the video here.
The mission name is STS-134 and, so far, everything seems perfect and in place. NASA TV commenters were just talking about how smooth everything went this time which, given the problems in recent months, is surprising. Great work NASA, for turning this around.
9.11am: They cut down the auxiliary power systems, as expected. Shuttle is now in orbit and humming her way to the International Space Station, where they will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer—which will study anti-matter—and the ExPRESS Logistics Carrier 3, among other things.
9.06am: Mark is now turning the shuttle around to photograph the tank. This is an important step, because they want to see if any foam fell on launch, hitting the tiles. Foam was responsible of damaging Columbia's thermal tiles, which eventually caused her fatal accident.
9.05am: Main engines are now off. Separation of the main engine tank.
9.03am: Endeavour has reached the point in which she can now reach orbit with only one engine. All engines are working perfectly well.
9am: All systems are working perfectly. Endeavour has reached her point of no return. This means that they can't return to Kennedy in case of any problem.
8.54am: Lift off! Look at her go. Godspeed, Endeavour. You look so beautiful this morning.
8.56am: Shuttle computers have the con.
8.55am: All is ready to go. 51 seconds! I'm giggling like a little girl right now.
8.53am: They are checking main engines steering. I always love this part. It's like she is alive and waking up.
8.51am: T-5 minutes.
8.50am: T-6 minutes. They are putting liquid oxygen in the tank.
8.45am: Countdown has started. Computers now have the control, going through a gazillion check parameters.
8.45am: Mark E. Kelly, STS-134 commander and husband of congressman Giffords, just give some emotive words on why this is a symbol of amazing teamwork and America's spirit. I agree. It's just to bad there's no much of that outside NASA and a couple other places.
8.42am All systems are ready to go. All the teams have reported everything is go. Flight director verified no constrains for launch. It's gonna happen, people.