Mission Commander Mark Kelly's wife, Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Gabrielle Giffords, in recovery from severe wounds from an assassination attempt in January, watched the successful launch with other astronaut family members as hundreds of thousands of enthused spectators crowded around the Kennedy Space Center.
Over the last two weeks NASA installed new wiring and replaced a glitch prone thermostat and a switch box with a blown fuse.
Coating on a small area of damaged tiles was repaired by the Closeout Crew during the countdown without delaying the launch
Endeavour will fly a 16-day mission to the International Space Station and back before retirement as a museum exhibit in Los Angeles. The shuttle and its all-male crew will deliver the $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02
) particle physics detector that will seek signs of dark matter and antimatter in the universe.