After two days of reviewing the flight readiness of the shuttle, crew, and payloads, NASA made 2:28 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on Tuesday, March 11th as the official launch time for the STS-123 mission.
Beginning their journey from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, the space shuttle Endeavour will carry the Japanese Kibo science module and the Canadian Dextre manipulator arm.
Kibo means "hope" in Japanese. According to the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) website, “Kibo is the first manned facility of Japan in which a maximum of four astronauts can perform experimental activities for a long duration of time.”
For further data on the JAXA Kibo module, go to: http://kibo.jaxa.jp/en/.
Dextre stands for: Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator. According to the CSA (Canadian Space Agency) website: “Dextre is an essential tool for maintaining and servicing the space station. With its dual-arm design providing added flexibility, Dextre will remove and replace smaller components on the Station’s exterior, where precise handling is required. It will be equipped with lights, video equipment, a tool platform and four tool holders.”
For additional info on the CSA Dextre, go to: http://www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/iss/mss_spdm.asp
The crew consists of NASA astronauts: commander Dominic L. Gorie, pilot Gregory H. Johnson, mission specialists Richard M. Linnehan, Robert L. Behnken, and Michael J. Foreman. Garrett E. Reisman is a member of the STS-123 who will stay aboard the ISS as its new Expedition 16/17 flight engineer, replacing ESA astronaut LÃ©opold Eyharts who will come back on shuttle Endeavour when it returns to Earth. JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut and mission specialist Takao Doi rounds out the seven-member STS-123 crew.
For further information on the STS-123 mission and its seven-member crew, please go to: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts123/index.html.
NASA Television will show the launch live, with coverage beginning at 9:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) on March 10. Remember that daylight savings time begins at 2:00 a.m. on March 9 in the United States. The launch is scheduled at 2:28 a.m. EDT, just two days after the changeover to Daylight Time.
Five spacewalks are the highlight of the STS-123 mission. They are scheduled to occur on flight days four, six, eight, eleven, and thirteen.
The first three excursions outside of the Space Station will be to install the first pressurized section, the Japanese Experiment Logistics Module-Pressurized Section (ELM-PS), of the Kibo (Hope) Japanese module.
The spacewalking astronauts will also install the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (Dextre) from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) during the first three spacewalks.
The ELM-PS will be installed by Linnehan and Reisman on the first spacewalk, which should last about 6.5 hours. Inside the station, Behnken and Eyharts will operate the robotic arm for the installation move of the ELM-PS. The ELM-PS will be placed on the upper side of the Harmony Node. Other parts of the Kibo module will be delivered on the next mission to the Station.
On the second spacewalk, the spacewalkers (Linnehan and Foreman) will remove the Dextre pallet from the shuttle’s cargo bay and install it on the space station. Dextre is comprised of two arms, two wrist end effectors, and a main body. The rest of the seven-hour excursion is dedicated to assembling Dextre, including the installation of its arms.
The third spacewalk, carried out by Linnehan and Behnken in about 6.5 hours, will finish the assembly of Dextre and outfit it with various components such as Camera Light Pan Tilt Assembly (CLPTA).
The fourth spacewalk is of special importance to the Hubble Space Telescope repair mission (STS-125), which is scheduled to liftoff on August 28, 2008. Please read on for more information.