Space shuttle Endeavour is about to lift off from Cape Canaveral in about 1 hour and 40 minutes. It’s the first flight for Endeavour in years as it has gone through an extensive modification period. STS-118 is another mission to the International Space Station and will deliver the S5 truss segment and cargo.
The weather conditions are remarkably good for today’s launch. About 6 hours before the launch, the weather officer reported only a 20% chance of weather preventing a liftoff. 3 hours later, isolated showers were removed from the forecast dropping the chance of weather preventing a liftoff to just 10%.
At this time, the crew is seated in the space shuttle and comm checks are complete. The big orange fuel tank is fully loaded with liquid hydrogen and oxygen. The launch team is tracking no issues at this time. For people in Europe, the launch time will be 9 August 0.36h.
Status updates after 22.50h (CET):
- 22.52h: The Closeout Crew reported an issue with what they call “micro-switches” on the crew hatch. They will reopen and close the hatch again to try to get a good seal.
- 23.08h: The Mission Management Team have had a discussion about a small crack in the external tank foam near the liquid oxygen feedline support bracket. The conclusion is that there’s no debris issue and the tank is safe. The Closout Crew continues to work on the hatch, trying to verify that the hatch is indeed closed.
- 23.15h: Two technicians are now in the White Room to verify that the orbiter’s crew hatch is indeed closed.
- 23.21h: We’re at T-20 minutes and holding for 10 minutes.
- 23.23h: The launch team has verified that the orbiter’s crew hatch is closed! Cabin leak checks are now in progress.
- 23.31h: T-20 minutes and counting. We’ll have another hold at T-9 minutes which will last about 45 minutes.
- 23.42h: T-9 minutes and holding. The hold will last exactly 41 minutes and 52 seconds.
- 0.11h: The weather is “green” for all TAL-sites (Transoceanic Abort Landing).
- 0.27h: T-9 minutes and counting!
- 0.34h: T-2 minutes!
- 0.36h: Liftoff of Endeavour!
- 0.39h: Good SRB separation!
- 0.41h: Negative return. This means Endeavour can no longer return to KSC in case of an emergency.
- 0.44h: Endeavour’s looking good. Approaching MECO…
- 0.45h: MECO (Main Engine Cut-Off)
- 0.46h: Clean external fuel tank separation
Endeavour is in its preliminary orbit after what appeared to be a very smooth ride to space. Rendez-vous with the ISS is scheduled for Friday.