(Reuters) - Space shuttle Endeavour is set to launch on Sunday on a 13-day mission to deliver a final connecting hub and a viewing port to the International Space Station.
The flight is the 130th for the U.S. space shuttle program, with four more missions remaining before the fleet is retired at the end of this year. Highlights of the mission include:
* Installing Tranquility, the International Space Station’s last connecting hub, which will house life support equipment, a toilet and exercise gear to support the live-aboard crew.
The module was built by Franco-Italian group Thales Alenia Space.
* Installing what has been called the crowning gem of the orbiting station -- a dome-shaped module with six trapezoidal side windows and a 31.5-inch (80-cm) circular top window, the largest viewing port ever flown in space. The cupola, which also was built by Thales Alenia Space, is intended as a robotics control station and viewing nook.
* Conducting three spacewalks to hook up the new modules. Veteran astronauts Robert Behnken and Nicholas Patrick are paired for all three spacewalks, which will be overseen by crewmate Stephen Robinson from inside the station.
* Delivering new parts for the space station’s broken water recycling system, designed to purify urine and other wastewater into potable water for drinking, cooking and other uses.
* Delivering new scientific experiments including a study on the Jatropha curcas plant, used for producing biofuel, to see if its breeding process can be sped up for commercial use.
Reporting by Irene Klotz; editing by Pascal Fletcher and Mohammad Zargham
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