NASA's space shuttle Endeavour launches to complete Japanese module

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Washington, July 16 (ANI): Space shuttle Endeavour and its seven-member crew have set off from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 15, to deliver the final segment to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory and a new crew member to the International Space Station (ISS).

Endeavour's 16-day mission includes five spacewalks and the installation of two platforms outside the Japanese module.

One platform is permanent and will allow experiments to be directly exposed to space. The other is an experiment storage pallet that will be detached and returned with the shuttle.

During the mission, Kibo's robotic arm will transfer three experiments from the pallet to the exposed platform.

Future experiments also can be moved to the platform from the inside of the station using the laboratory's airlock.

Shortly before liftoff, Commander Mark Polansky thanked the teams that helped make the launch possible.

"Endeavour has patiently waited for this," said Polansky. "We're ready to go, and we're going to take all of you with us on a great mission," he added.

Polansky is joined on STS-127 by Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Dave Wolf, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette and Tim Kopra.

Kopra will replace space station crew member Koichi Wakata, who has been aboard the station for more than three months.

Kopra will return to Earth during the next station shuttle mission, STS-128, targeted to launch in August 2009.

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. (ANI)

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