The launch of the Shuttle Endeavour has been delayed at nearly the last second. The launch of the Endeavour was technically supposed to take place last November, but technical issues have kept the shuttle grounded since then. It will be a further three days until it launches, but the Endeavour will be going on its last flight ever once it does lift off.
Thousands of spectators sent packing
Space Shuttle launches always draw a crowd, and the second to last flight of the longest-running vehicle program in NASA history drew thousands. There were 750,000 people, according to NPR, that thronged to Florida to see the Shuttle Endeavour take to the sky and ascend to the heavens for the last time, but they unfortunately have been told to hold it for a bit. A problem was discovered with the heating system on board the shuttle, and the flight has been delayed by at least three days. President Obama was going to join the onlookers, according to the New York Times, but the decision was made to scuttle the launch for the time being before he arrived. Obama has been surveying tornado damage from the recent disastrous storms in Alabama.
End of an era
Endeavour is scheduled to take off on Monday, May 2. It is the last flight of the Endeavour, which is the younger of the two remaining shuttles. Endeavour, according to Wikipedia, has flown on 24 previous flights and the Atlantis has flown 32. The upcoming mission STS-134, according to CNN, will be the second to last flight of a Space Shuttle, as the program is being retired. The program is the longest-running vehicle program in the history of NASA, as the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs did not last half as long as the shuttle program. After the Atlantis flies later this year, transporting astronauts into space will become the realm of private contractors who are coordinating with NASA.
Gabrielle Giffords to make public appearance
One of the other points of interest for many is that Gabrielle Giffords will be attending the launch. Giffords, a Representative from Arizona, was shot in the head at point blank range in January at a rally in Arizona. After suffering an injury which is normally fatal, Giffords is now able to speak, write and walk to some degree, but is still undergoing physical therapy at a clinic in Houston, Texas. She is attending the launch, according to the Christian Science Monitor, to watch her husband, Mission Commander Mark Kelly, fly the last mission of the Endeavour.
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/30/science/space/30shuttle.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
Christian Science Monitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0425/Gabrielle-Giffords-what-shuttle-launch-might-say-about-her-political-future
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