Monday, May 16, 2011

STS-134: Blast off success for Endeavor!

Endeavor lifts off Pad 39A.

After a frustrating series of delays and repairs, Endeavor has finally been launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is Endeavor's last mission to space, and you couldn't ask for a more perfect launch this morning.

Closest permitted viewing area on hold at 9 minutes.

I remember being at a previous shuttle launch (which for me ended in a delay-arrg!). No doubt today there were thousands and thousands of spectators lining the roads and approaches to the space center waiting for this particular launch. The orbiter Endeavor has held a special place in American's hearts as it was the shuttle built to replace the loss of Challenger in the 80's. The shuttle was named in honor of HMS Endeavor, the ship made famous by the travels of Captain Cook in the Pacific and his crew's discoveries of many islands.

Camera view from the Vehicle Assembly Building.

Testing the swivel of the main engines before liftoff.

Removing the ET gas collector cap.

Activating ignition of the main engines.

Blast-off! The power of the SRBs is quite evident in this standard camera angle.

SRB separation after burn out. Main Engines continue to provide thrust.

ET separation. The External Tank will break up during re-entry over the Indian Ocean and sink to the bottom of the sea.

Mission Flight Control in Houston.

STS-134 marks the 25th mission for the shuttle Endeavor. The shuttle is now on the way to correcting its attitude and orbit in preparation for docking with the ISS in a couple of days.

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