The space shuttle Endeavour made its final launch on Monday, taking with it a payload eager scientists have been waiting to get into space.

The NASA space shuttle was first scheduled for lift-off on April 29, but engineers worked through a number of technical difficulties for a successful launch on May 16 at 8:56 am EST.

It takes with it the $2bn Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer particle detector that is set to be installed at the International Space Station.

The device is designed to give scientists their first detailed study of the electrically charged particles streaming through the universe.

It could also reshape modern understandings of the universe in a similar way that the Hubble Space Telescope pioneered new frontiers in astronomy.

The pictures painted by AMS, which was assembled at the CERN physics research center near Geneva, could bring to light the universe's so-called dark matter -- material that is so far unaccounted for but necessary to explain what is observable.

Several other, lower profile experiments are also slated to take the ride to space.

The nonprofit Planetary Society is putting six types of microbes inside sealed tubes that will fly on Endeavour's middeck. The various microbes will be studied to see how they are able to adapt to the extreme environments of outer-space.

NASA has made room for several experiments set up by students.

Technicians worked for two  weeks to repair and retest the electrical system to determine what caused a circuit to short out.

Endeavour is the second-to-last shuttle mission for the 30-year US program. Atlantis will mark the end to the program in in June and July.

NASA is winding down its space shuttle operations this summer as it tries to save money, which will leave American and European astronauts with only Russian rockets as options for going into space.

Endeavour is the second-to-last shuttle mission for the 30-year US program. Atlantis will mark the end to the program in in June and July.

NASA is winding down its space shuttle operations this summer as it tries to save money, which will leave American and European astronauts with only Russian rockets as options for going into space.

In February, the space shuttle Discovery, NASA's oldest and most travelled spacecraft, made its final voyage into space.

The country is focusing on inspiring 3rd part companies to put astronauts in orbit using privately run launch, transport and services companies.

NASA will now focus its resources on deep space exploration, such as potential landings on asteroids and, eventually, Mars.