The space shuttle Endeavour is getting ready to fly for the final time.
When the orbiter blasts off for a 14-day mission from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, it will carry a six-member crew to the International Space Station.
Stats on the shuttle Endeavour prior to its final launch:
Kilometres travelled: 166,003,248
Time in space: 280 days, 9 hours, 39 minutes, 44 seconds
Crew members: 148
International Space Station dockings: 10
Leading the crew will be Commander Mark Kelly, whose participation in the mission had been uncertain after the shooting of his wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, in Arizona in January. Giffords is recovering from her injuries, but flew to Florida for the launch.
Kelly says shuttle crew members have a lot of goals for their time in space.
"We've got a whole list of mission objectives, probably 30 things on the list, but the big objective is to get the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) installed on the outside of the space station," he said in a posting on the NASA website.
AMS is one of the most expensive things flown by the space shuttle, said Kelly.
History of Endeavour
The U.S. Congress authorized the construction of Endeavour on Sept. 28, 1987, to replace the crumbling space shuttle Challenger. Endeavour arrived at the Kennedy Space Center's shuttle landing facility on May 7, 1991.
Endeavour is the first shuttle to be named through a national naming contest through elementary and secondary schools. Endeavour's first launch was on May 7, 1992.
Notable missions by Endeavour include the December 1993 trip to the Hubble Space Telescope, which was the first servicing mission there.
Greg Johnson, who is piloting the shuttle, said he won't be making any space walks, but he will be helping Kelly.
The mission will include four space walks, each lasting about six hours.
Astronaut Andrew Feustel will be the lead space walker, with Michael Fincke, Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency and Greg Chamitoff also going outside the shuttle.
According to NASA's mission summary, the AMS is a particle physics detector, designed to search for various types of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays.
NASA says AMS weighs about 6,800 kilograms, consumes more than 2,000 watts of power and has 600 microprocessors. It was built in collaboration with 600 people in 56 institutions from 16 countries.
Endeavour's mission, labelled STS-134, is its last, and the second-last for NASA's space shuttle program.