At 8:56 a.m., Space Shuttle Endeavor is scheduled to make its final launch into space. This is the second-to-last mission in the Shuttle program's 30-year history.
- Shuttle Endeavor's final flight is scheduled for Monday, right before 9 a.m. (NASA)
At 8:56 a.m., Space Shuttle Endeavor is scheduled to make its final journey into space. On board is a highly developed and expensive dark-matter sensor and the usual complement of highly developed and expensive astronauts. If cloud cover or strong winds don't interfere (and NASA said Sunday night there was a 70 percent chance they won't), this will be the second-to-last launch before the U.S. ends the 30-year-old shuttle program.
What's next for NASA? Well, more cost-saving measures, no doubt. The space agency will henceforth use Russia's rockets to get into orbit as it generates plans for different space vehicles and more cool stuff down the pipeline, like dusting off on an asteroid or finally landing on Mars. The shuttle era officially dies after Atlantis makes its launch in June or July.
Endeavor is set to blast off at 8:56 a.m. but coverage of the event on NASA TV began at 3:30 a.m. (For die-hard Shuttle fans, at 3:56 p.m. you can watch the crew go to sleep.) For a schedule of TV coverage over the 16 days of the mission, check this PDF. For a good description of the onboard Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer – which took 15 years and 16 different countries to develop, cost between $1.5 and $2 billion and could help us understand the mysterious “dark matter” comprising 83 percent of the universe – click here. The Shuttle blog is here.