NASA readies shuttle crew for next launch
After a problem with the heating system, Endeavour and its crew are ready to launch on May 16.
Thu, May 12, 2011 at 09:24 PM
NEARLY LAUNCH TIME: Space Shuttle Endeavour sits poised for launch at NASA Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A after technicians replaced the Load Control Assembly-2 (LCA-2) in its aft section. NASA managers have set the liftoff of Space Shuttle Endeavo
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla - Space shuttle Endeavour commander Mark Kelly and his crew returned to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday to prepare for a second launch attempt to the International Space Station.
Endeavour is scheduled to lift off on NASA's 134th and next-to-last shuttle mission Monday at 8:56 a.m. local time.
"It's great to be back," Kelly said. "Four days from now we should all be strapped in and ready to go. Hopefully the weather will be good."
Endeavour's first launch attempt on April 29 was called off about four hours before liftoff when engineers detected a problem with a heating system in one of the ship's onboard power units. Technicians replaced an electronics switching box and rewired the circuit.
Kelly's wife, the recuperating U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was due to return to Florida later in the week to watch the launch.
Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was nearly killed in a mass shooting January 8 that killed six people. She is undergoing rehabilitation in Houston. Her first excursion since the shooting was to Florida for Endeavour's April 29 attempt.
The shuttle will be delivering a $2 billion particle physics experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.
NASA is retiring its three-ship shuttle fleet this summer due to high operating costs and to develop spaceships that can travel beyond the station's 220-mile-high orbit. The U.S. space agency expects to unveil its plan for a new launcher in June, said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana.
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton)