NASA announces 7 Feb. as final space shuttle night launch

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., 30 Jan. 2010. Space Shuttle Endeavour is set to begin a 13-day flight to the International Space Station with a 7 Feb. launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Liftoff is planned for 4:39 a.m. Est. making this the final scheduled space shuttle night launch.

Endeavour's launch date was announced at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle's equipment, support systems, and procedures are ready.

The flight will begin the final year of space shuttle operations. Five shuttle missions are planned in 2010, with the last flight currently targeted for launch in September.

Endeavour'smission will include three spacewalks and the delivery of the Tranquility node, the final module of the U.S. portion of the space station. Tranquility will provide additional room for crew members and many of the space station's life support and environmental control systems. Attached to the node is a cupola, which houses a robotic control station and has seven windows to provide a panoramic view of Earth, celestial objects and visiting spacecraft. After the node and cupola are added, the orbiting laboratory will be about 90 percent complete.

Commander George Zamka and his crew of five astronauts are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy at approximately 10 p.m. on Tuesday, 2 Feb. for final launch preparations. Joining Zamka on STS-130 are Pilot Terry Virts and Mission Specialists Kathryn Hire, Stephen Robinson, Nicholas Patrick and Robert Behnken. Virts will be making his first trip to space.

STS-130 will be Endeavour's 24th mission and the 33rd shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance. For more information about STS-130, visit http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle.

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