2011 saw the final missions fly of NASA’s iconic space shuttle program, so we were spoiled with fantastic images througout every stage of each mission.
One such dramatic image is the choice for our astronomy advent calendar count-down for today.
This amazing shot of Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A was taken on 28th April 2011, the day before the original scheduled launch of the shuttle Endeavour on the STS-134 mission.
The shuttle was fine, however a fault detected in a fuel heater in Auxiliary Power Unit No. 1 eventually meant the launch was pushed back until 16th May. The primary payload on this mission was the AMS-02 Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector, which was mounted to the ISS.
Its main goal is helping us in understanding of the origin of the Universe, by searching for antimatter, dark matter and measuring cosmic rays.