School science experiments launched into space on Endeavour’s final flight

Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto
Image Credit: Veronica Ann
Zabala-Aliberto ©2011

Science has been a part of the Space Shuttle Program from the very beginning. The Most recent mission, STS-134, was no exception. Endeavour, making its final flight, carried a pallet of micro gravity experiments created by students from around the United States.

Veronica Ann Zabala-Aliberto from Rancho Santa Fe Elementary in Litchfield, Arizona, spent more than a month at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida helping to set up and analyze the experiments. She was responsible for loading the experiments for the flight aboard Endeavour, and for retrieving the experiments once the space shuttle had landed.

The Student Spaceflight Experiments Program , which gives schoolchildren the ability to design real experiments that fly in low Earth orbit, was begun by National Center for Earth and Space Science Education in June of 2010. Children from around the country posed questions such as:

  • “Can honey be used as a preservative on long duration space flights?”
  • “How does exposure to microgravity affect the swimming patterns and development of zebra fish?”

Videos showing the lab work can be seen on ustream, and a description of the program is at STEMStream TV.

Student teams submitted 447 proposals, from which 16 were selected—one for each community. You can visit the SSEP Community Network Hubsite for the list of winning proposals. And a second Student Spaceflight Experiments Program opportunity was created when STS-135 Atlantis was added to the space shuttle flight manifest.

Veronica is the Arizona regional coordinator for the Planetary Society, at-large director for the National Space Society, president of the Arizona regional coordinator for the Planetary Society, at-large director for the National Space Society, president of the Phoenix chapter of the National Space Society, commander of the Family Living Analysis on Mars Expedition and co-founder of the non-profit organization, Astronauts4Hire.


Endeavour Leaving the International Space Station

Astronauts on EVA
Image Credit: NASA TV

Endeavour is due to undock from the space station Sunday night at 8:55 PM Phoenix time (0355 30 May UTC) after nearly two weeks visiting the orbiting lab.

During the mission to the ISS, the Russian Soyuz spacecraft TMA-20 returned to Earth with astronauts Cady Coleman, Paoli Nespoli, and Russian cosmonaut Dmitri Kondratyev.

Following detachment from the space station, the crew of TMA-20 photographed the ISS and Endeavor. Details here.

During the current (and last visit) by Endeavour, four spacewalks were performed:

  • EVA 1. 19 May – Retrieve Materials International Space Station Experiment-7 (MISSE-7) from the ELC 2 and install in Endeavour’s payload bay, and installation of MISSE-8. Install P3-P4 ammonia jumpers. Install P5-P6 ammonia jumpers. Install wireless communications for Destiny Lab.
  • EVA2. 21 May – Began with rerouting the P3-P4 ammonia jumpers. The Solar Alpha Rotary Joint (SARJ) was exposed and lubricated, as was the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM). And the ammonia system was vented.
  • EVA3. 25 May – Work was performed on the Zarya module, including installation of the Power Data Grapple Fixture (PDGF) and a variety of cables.
  • EVA4. 26 May – The 162nd and FINAL Space Shuttle spacewalk. The Orbiter Boom Sensor System (OBSS) was transferred from Endeavour to the ISS (at the Starboard 0 / starboard 1 truss interface) and a PDGF was installed so that the SPDM can attach it.

Coverage of the return will be on NASA TV.

Cady Coleman Returns

Cady Coleman
Image Credit: Roscosmos

Cady Coleman returned from 157 days on the International Space Station. The Russian TMA-20 spacecraft undocked from the station’s Rassvet module May 23, 2011, at 2:35 PM Phoenix time (2135 UTC). The crew landed safely at 7:27 PM (0227 UTC) southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Air Force Colonel Catherine Coleman flew aboard the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft to serve as a flight engineer for Expeditions 26 and 27. A veteran of two shuttle missions, Coleman’s last spaceflight was in July 1999 as the lead mission specialist for STS-93 aboard Columbia.

On STS-93, she was responsible for the deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Coleman’s first flight was aboard STS-73 Columbia from 20 October to 5 November 1995. The mission focused on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids, and numerous scientific experiments housed in the pressurized Spacelab module.

Since 1992, she has been heavily involved with astronaut training during her career at NASA

Mark Kelly – Astronaut

Mark Kelly
Image Credit: NASA

Mark Kelly is a Captain in the U. S. Navy, and the Commander of STS-134, the final mission for the Endeavour space shuttle. One of the primary goals is to deAlpha Magnetic Spectrometerliver the eight ton to the International Space Station (ISS). The experiment involves 600 scientists from 16 countries, led by Nobel Prize winning physicist Samuel Ting of MIT.

Captain Kelly commanded STS-108 Endeavour in December 2001, where the Raffaello Multi-Purpose Logistics Module delivered supplies to the ISS. It was the 12th shuttle flight to the Space Station. In July 2006, he commanded STS-121, which was a return-to-flight test mission and assembly flight to the International Space Station.

Prior to STS-134, he commanded STS-124 Discovery in May of 2008. This was the 123rd Space Shuttle flight, and delivered the 37-foot (11-meter) Japanese Experiment Module-Pressurized Module (JEM-PM), also known as Kibo, and the Japanese Remote Manipulator System.

Endeavour – 16 May 2011

Endeavour 7 Hours Before Launch
Image Credit: NASA TV

Endeavour at launch Minus 7 hours. Tanking is 2/3 complete.

See you in the morning for launch at 5:56 AM Phoenix time (1256 UTC).

Coverage on NASA TV.

Good Morning. At 5:20 Phoenix time, we are 40 minutes from launch and in a planned hold at T-Minus 9 minutes. The weather is good and the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) has been cleared for launch by Range Safety.

The launch window for Endeavour will open at 5:55:43 Phoenix time (1255:43 UTC), the optimum launch time is 5:56:28 (1256:28 UTC), and closes at 6:01:29 AM (0101:29 UTC).

T-Minus 9 Minutes
Endeavour at T-minus 9 and Holding
Image Credit: NASA TV

At 5:41 AM we are 15 minutes from launch and 6 minutes from resumption of the count. Final polling of all systems is taking place at this time. All systems are go.

The launch countdown has resumed. T-Minus 9 minutes and counting.

T-Minus 9 Minutes
Endeavour at T-minus 9 and Counting
Image Credit: NASA TV

T-Minus 9 Minutes
Endeavour at T-minus 9 and Counting
Image Credit: NASA TV

T-minus 5 minutes.

Flight surface and engine swivel tests.

T-minus 90 seconds.

T-minus 30 seconds.


1300 miles per hour downrange.

Booster separation.

T-Minus 9 Minutes
Image Credit: NASA TV

T-Minus 9 Minutes
Booster Separation
Image Credit: NASA TV

Main Engine Cutoff and External Tank separation is complete.

At 12 minutes into the flight, all systems are go.

We will see Endeavour at the ISS on Wednesday at 6:15 AM.

Endeavour – Final Mission

Endeavour at T-Minus 6 Hours
Image Credit: NASA TV

The Russian Progress M-10M resupply spacecraft completed its docking with the ISS at 7:28 AM Phoenix time (1428 GMT).

Endeavour is scheduled for launch at 12:47 PM Phoenix time (1947 UTC). You can watch the launch live at NASA TV.

Notice: at 1610 UTC, the launch of Endeavour was scrubbed due to a failed heater in the APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) of the Shuttle. It looks like there are multiple failures on APU1. The Load Control Assembly appears to be the problem, although a short is possible.

Launch would be no earlier than Monday, and likely Wednesday.

Additional discussion of the APU problem can be found at NASASpaceFlight.

Progress M-10M Docking with ISS

Progress M-10M Approach to ISS
Image Credit: NASA TV

The Russian Progress M-10M resupply spacecraft is now about 20 minutes from docking at 7:29 AM Phoenix time (1429 GMT). Distance is now about 260 meters.

Less than 6 hours later, the Space Shuttle Endeavour is scheduled for launch at 12:47 PM Phoenix time.

Progress is 200 meters and doing a five minute station keeping with the Pirs module prior to final approach.

At 7:14, we are 15 minutes from docking.

The International Space Station is just crossing the coast of Africa.

Two minutes until final approach begins.

And the ISS is now moving over Eastern Europe, toward the Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

Final approach will be at about 0.12 meters per second.

Progress M-10M seen from ISS
Image Credit: NASA TV

Progress M-10M 15 meters from ISS
Image Credit: NASA TV

With 7 minutes to go Progress is 60 meters from the docking collar.

15 meters.

2 minutes and 10 meters.

Closing rate is 0.1 meters per second.

Docking is confirmed at 7:28 AM Phoenix time.