Launching from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with six crew members on board, NASA’s space shuttle ‘Endeavour’ launched on its final mission on Monday.
The mission’s primary objectives are to deliver specialist research equipment and supplies to the International Space Station. Once docked, the shuttle will begin a two week stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, with the crew scheduled to undertake four ‘spacewalks’ to install components to the exterior of the station.
Before liftoff, commander Mark Kelly said of the mission:
“As Americans, we endeavour to build a better life than the generation before and endeavour to be a united nation. In those efforts we are often tested. This mission represents the power of teamwork, commitment and exploration. It is in the DNA of our country to reach for the stars and explore. We must not stop.”
There is only one scheduled shuttle mission remaining after the return of the Endeavour, which is due to land on 1st June.
“Today’s final launch of Endeavour is a testament to American ingenuity and leadership in human spaceflight,” commented NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who is a former astronaut himself.
“As we look toward a bright future with the International Space Station as our anchor and new destinations in deep space on the horizon, we salute the astronauts and ground crews who have ensured the orbiter’s successful missions.”