August 8, 2007

Liftoff of the Shuttle Endeavour and the crew of STS-118

Liftoff of the Shuttle Endeavour, August 8, 2007Despite a last-minute problem closing the hatch, Endeavour makes a picture-perfect ascent through the atmosphere.

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The next day, in a short satellite message, Morgan describes the feelings of weightlessness. "Even though I kept my head upright so it looked like a normal ceiling and a normal floor, normal walls, I felt like I was upside down the whole time," she said.

Watch Flight Day 2: Barbara Morgan     Windows Media Windows Media   Real Media   (NASA video)

 

 

Gouge in Endeavour's tilesBy then, NASA managers had already noticed that chunks of insulating foam had hit the shuttle on liftoff. It was damage from foam that doomed the Space Shuttle Columbia upon re-entry. After docking with the International Space Station on August 10, Morgan helps operate the boom sensor system that takes photos of the tiles for detailed examination.

In an interview with Marcia Franklin of Idaho Public Television, Morgan expresses confidence that engineers will work out a solution and bring the shuttle home safely. She also talks about the beauty of seeing the blackness of space from above the atmosphere.

 

Marcia Franklin talks with Barbara Morgan and Alvin Drew from spaceWatch "An Interview with Barbara Morgan from Space" by Marcia Franklin (August 16, 2007)
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Barbara Morgan and Tracy Caldwell in the orbiterOn Day 7 of the mission, Morgan and Astronaut Tracy Caldwell successfully pull a 7,000 pound stowage platform out of the shuttle's payload bay using a robotic arm, and hand it off to the space station's robotic arm. Morgan also focused on her loadmaster duties, meticulously documenting every item coming on and off the shuttle.

Although she would have little time for the educational events that she and McAuliffe had originally planned, Morgan and some of the crew were able to answer questions from students at the Discovery Center of Idaho via satellite.

 

Barbara Morgan floats in space next to a package of one million basil seeds flown for student experimentsWatch "Barbara Morgan talks with Idaho students" at the Idaho Discovery Center (August 14, 2007)
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Morgan is also able to talk with students in McCall over ham radio.

 

 

On Day 8, Morgan receives the traditional wakeup call that each astronaut gets on a mission She is serenaded by her son Adam, with a song called "Good Morning World" that he composed for the crew.

June Scobee RodgersAnd in a poignant event, Morgan and Astronaut Alvin Drew spoke with students at the Challenger Center in Arlington, VA, started by June Scobee Rodgers, the widow of Challenger Commander Dick Scobee.

After intensive modeling, NASA managers decide not to repair the damaged area of tile underneath the shuttle, saying that the risk to a spacewalker repairing the tile would be greater than the possibility of shuttle failure upon re-entry.

Managers do worry, however, that Hurricane Dean, which is headed for Houston, could cause Mission Control to shut down. So they order the shuttle home a day early.

Barbara Morgan with her payload transfer binders Hurricane Dean viewed from the International Space Station

For complete details of the mission, go to NASA's mission site.

View a NASA multimedia gallery of Endeavour events