Countdown begins for 'Endeavour'
Space shuttle Endeavour's commander, Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, and his five crewmates flew into Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral early Tuesday afternoon. The countdown for the shuttle's launch Friday began about an hour later.
Kelly said his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, would follow him "pretty soon" — in plenty of time for liftoff. "She's been working really hard to make sure that her doctors would permit her to come. She's more than medically ready to be here, and she's excited about making this trip," he said.
Giffords is undergoing rehabilitation in Houston for a gunshot wound to the head. She was attacked Jan. 8 in her Tucson, Ariz., hometown.
Endeavour will carry a $2 billion particle physics experiment to the International Space Station along with a load of spare station parts. President Barack Obama and his family will attend the liftoff, scheduled for 3:47 p.m. Friday. Forecasters put the odds of good launch weather at 80 percent.
This will be the 134th shuttle mission overall and the 25th for NASA's youngest shuttle. It first flew in 1992, as the replacement for the lost Challenger. The 30-year shuttle program ends this summer with the flight of Atlantis.
Endeavour will retire to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.