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NASA Prepares for Shuttle Launch

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After 126 space shuttle missions, only eight remain before the fleet is scheduled to retire.

That’s eight flights remaining to use the unique capabilities of the shuttle to finish construction on the International Space Station and prepare it for life after shuttle. Each flight is unique and extremely complicated. Attention to detail and planning will be needed to be successful.

And so with this in mind, NASA prepares for tonight's expected launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. After several attempts to launch in mid-June were scrubbed because of a hydrogen leak, engineers believe they have solved all of the problems and are ready for a safe lift-off and mission to the ISS.

The 16-day mission will feature five spacewalks and complete construction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. Astronauts will attach a platform to the outside of the Japanese module that will allow experiments to be exposed to space.

The STS-127 crew members are Commander Mark Polansky, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Dave Wolf, Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Tim Kopra and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette.

Kopra will join the space station crew and replace Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will return to Earth on Endeavour concluding a three-month stay at the station.

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