The Storm Before the Storm

Endeavour’s Last Mission

Postponed Till End of Week

NASA delayed the flight until at least the end of the week to replace a switch box in the engine compartment.
In the end, it wasn’t the fiery storm over the skies of Florida (pictured) what determined the postponement of Endeavour’s last mission. It was a heater for the fuel line leading to one of the shuttle’s auxiliary power unit what did it in. Further tests over the weekend seem to point the culprit as the switch box, which will be replaced.
The experienced 6-astronaut crew, lead by Mark Kelly, a veteran of three shuttle missions, is already in Houston and no date for their return to the big blast off Kennedy Space Center has been set yet. Once that happens, they shuttle will remain docked at the International Space Station for two weeks.
Kelly’s wife, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who’s still recovering from an attempt on her life in January, in Arizona, was at the failed launch, as was President Obama and a number of officials, former astronauts and celebrities. Public attendance was also high but it wasn’t to be.
The 36th shuttle mission to the ISS will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and other spare parts to the ISS, besides several baby squids and embryos for an experiment on developmental biology in microgravity.
Despite this small mishap, the Atlantis is still scheduled to flight the fleet’s last mission on or about June 29. After it returns t Earth for good, the ISS will be serviced by the Russian Soyuz rocket, a possibile European orbiter, still in development stages, and, whenever available, the next generation of space vehicles, to be built by private companies.

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