(PHOTO COURTESY OF NASA)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The space shuttle Endeavour finally lifted off Wednesday carrying seven astronauts, including Canadian and McGill alum Julie Payette, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida en route to the International Space Station. The shuttle launched at 6:03 p.m. ET despite earlier concerns that weather might again force NASA to postpone the mission for what would have been a sixth time.
Endeavour's seven astronauts, including Payette, are scheduled to perform five spacewalks and complete the construction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo experiment module at the space station during their 16-day mission.
Payette, a distance runner on the 1994-95 McGill cross-country team while studying for a doctorate, is the flight engineer. She will operate the shuttle's Canadarm 1, the space station's Canadarm 2 and a third mechanical arm that is to be installed on Kibo. The mission will also mark the first time two Canadians will be in space simultaneously.
Another McGill grad, Robert Thirsk arrived at the space station in late May aboard a Russian space capsule for a six-month stay, the first time a Canadian has participated in a long-duration mission to space.
Endeavour's first landing opportunity at Kennedy is scheduled for Friday, July 31 at 10:45 a.m. STS-127 is the 127th space shuttle flight, the 29th to the station, the 23rd for Endeavour and the third in 2009.
NASA is providing continuous television and Internet coverage of Endeavour's mission. NASA Television features live mission events, daily mission status news conferences and 24-hour commentary. For NASA TV streaming video, downlink and schedule information, visit: