NASA fuels shuttle Endeavour for evening launch

Friday, November 14th 2008, 12:04 pm
By: News 9


AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- NASA began fueling space shuttle Endeavour on Friday for an evening flight to the international space station and a home remodeling project by astronauts doubling as kitchen and bathroom installers.

The weather was promising: Forecasters said there was just a 30 percent chance that rain or clouds would interfere with the 7:55 p.m. liftoff.

Running a little late Friday morning, technicians finally began pumping more than 500,000 gallons of super-cold liquid hydrogen and oxygen into Endeavour's big external fuel tank.

Endeavour and its seven-person crew will spend 15 days in orbit, including Thanksgiving. The shuttle held enough irradiated turkey dinners for everyone, with plenty of space-style candied yams, corn bread stuffing and cranberry-apple dessert.

Filling the payload bay were thousands of pounds of equipment for the space station -- enough to allow NASA to double the size of the space station's three-person crew by June.

Among the additions: two bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchenette, exercise machine and NASA's revolutionary new recycling system designed to turn urine and condensation into drinking water.

All this will transform the space station into a five-bedroom, two-bath, two-kitchen home capable of housing six residents.

"In a way, this is a working man's flight," NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said as the shuttle's fueling got under way.

"This is something that's the size of a small ship, and it needs a lot to keep it running. This is one of the flights where we deliver those things," Griffin told The Associated Press.

The accouterments -- as Griffin calls them -- also are intended to make life "bearable" for the astronauts spending months there.

Endeavour's seven astronauts will help install all the new equipment, with help from the space station's three residents.

The shuttle crew also will take on a lube job on the orbiting outpost.

A massive joint that rotates half of the space station's solar wings toward the sun has been jammed for more than a year; it's clogged with metal grit from grinding parts. The spacewalking astronauts will spend most of their time working on that joint and also add extra grease to a twin joint that is working fine -- in order to keep it that way.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)