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Endeavour’s final voyage

SPACE SHUTTLE ENDEAVOUR, the youngest of NASA’s shuttle fleet, is due to launch on its final voyage at 10:56pm, Sydney time, on Monday, May 16. (That’s 8:56am, US EDT, Monday.)

With a crew of six, and carrying one of the largest and heaviest pieces of gear yet taken to the International Space Station—the antimatter-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer 2 (AMS2)—Endeavour’s 16-day mission will the second-last of the shuttle programme.

As well as AMS2, Endeavour is also carrying a pallet of critical spare parts, and astronauts will conduct four spacewalks to connect up the new gear, and make some repairs.

These will be the final spacewalks of the space shuttle programme. There will not be any spacewalks during the Atlantis’ final shuttle flight, at this stage still set for late June.

The video above gives an outline of Endeavour’s mission and its crew.

Story by Jonathan Nally, SpaceInfo.com.au. Video and images courtesy NASA.

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Where is the antimatter?

The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is a particle physics experiment module that is to be mounted on the International Space Station. It is designed to search for various types of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays. Its experiments will help researchers study the formation of the Universe and search for evidence of dark matter and antimatter.

Final testing is being completed at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) facility in the Netherlands and delivery to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is expected in early September 2010.

Launch is targeted for February 2011 on space shuttle Endeavour flight STS-134, the last flight in the shuttle programme.

Adapted from information issued by ESA / Wikipedia.

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