After delays and one false start, the launch of space shuttle Endeavour was a “go.” The shuttle set off Monday morning.
Flight plans were scrubbed in April because of “possible faulty auxiliary power unit heater,” but NASA officials were confident that the shuttle would be ready Monday for its last launch and 14-day mission. It’s traveling to the International Space Station with a $2 billion physics experiment.
The mission is the second to last flight for NASA’s space shuttle program, and it carries extra emotional weight. The commander of the flight is astronaut Mark Kelly, husband to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords arrived in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sunday to cheer on her husband, just four months after being shot in the head in the Jan. 8 attack that left six dead and 12 injured.
Giffords made the trip to Florida for the initial launch in April and a video captured her walking onto the plane — the first and only time she’s been seen since the shooting in Tucson.
Watch video of the launch here:
Gabrielle & Mark said goodbye during visit before launch. Beach House made for picturesque setting. http://yfrog.com/h8fvkvtj
Meanwhile, Endeavour astronauts send out messages before the launch:
Dear God, please bless our crew. Help us in our mission and to return safely home. Please help me not to mess anything up.
Good Morning!! I am really excited and charged up for this mission! Slept great - enjoyed amazing coffee and breakfast with my crew at 0100.
Launch day. We should be pulling off Earth in a couple hours. Liftoff at 8:56a ET. Watch: www.nasa.gov/ntv