From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
HOUSTON - Space shuttle Endeavour delivered an early sunrise to the Florida coast this morning, lifting off at 1:28 a.m. CDT from the Kennedy Space Center to begin a 16-day mission to the International Space Station.
Aboard the shuttle are Commander Dominic Gorie, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Robert Behnken, Mike Foreman, Rick Linnehan, Garrett Reisman and Takao Doi, a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut.
Endeavour will deliver the first component of the Japanese laboratory complex, Kibo, to the station. Kibo, which means "Hope" in English, is the major contribution of Japan to the International Space Station. The laboratory complex will take three shuttle flights to assemble. Endeavour also is carrying an intricate robotics system called Dextre that was developed for the station by the Canadian Space Agency. The two-armed robot will be attached to the end of the stations robotic arm to handle smaller tasks that otherwise would require a spacewalk to accomplish.
The STS-123 mission will be the longest mission to date to the station and will include five spacewalks.
International Space Station Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Leopold Eyharts were awake beginning their workday when Endeavour launched. Reisman will become a member of the station crew after docking as he trades places with Eyharts, who will return to Earth aboard Endeavour once it departs the station.
Endeavour's crew will begin a sleep period at 7:28 a.m. today and awaken at 3:28 p.m. to begin its first full day in space. The shuttle is scheduled to dock to the station at 10:20 p.m. Wednesday.
The next shuttle status report will be issued after the crew awakens this afternoon, or earlier if events warrant.
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