CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – With wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on hand to watch, the space shuttle Endeavour is poised to give the workweek a roaring and historic start this morning, overcoming wiring problems that grounded it last month.
Giffords’ arrival Sunday afternoon included a quick fly-by of Endeavour on the launch pad, then she bid husband Mark Kelly goodbye at the beach house used by shuttle crews before launch.
“Gabrielle is excited for tomorrow’s launch. Do you plan to see history in the making?” her staff tweeted. Later, her staff added: “Gabrielle & Mark said goodbye during visit before launch. Beach House made for picturesque setting.”
NASA officials said conditions – from weather to technical issues – couldn’t look much better for the scheduled 8:56 a.m. EDT launch today.
Giffords, traveling on a NASA jet with the family of pilot Gregory Johnson, arrived shortly after the protective structure that surrounds Endeavour was moved out of the way – a milestone in launch preparations that allowed fueling to begin late Sunday night.
NASA was so ready to get the flight off the ground that they moved the protective scaffolding 15 minutes earlier than planned.