Entries in Shuttle (5)


Endeavour Crew Chats with Tucson School Kids from Space

NASA(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Elementary school classmates of the youngest victim of the deadly January Tucson, Ariz., shootings that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. severely wounded, chatted Sunday with space shuttle Endeavour astronauts Mark Kelly and Mike Fincke while they were in orbit.

The Sunday night talk at Mesa Verde Elementary School was a priority for Kelly, the father of two teenage girls, and the husband of Rep. Giffords. Kelly has been haunted by Christina's death, and he told ABC News' Diane Sawyer earlier this year it agonized him when he thought about it.

One thing Kelly could give was his time, and that's why students crowded into school on a Sunday night to talk to the astronauts. He told them that when he was Christina's age, "I was watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, and I told myself that if I worked really hard, maybe one day I would have the opportunity to fly in space, and I did work hard and it did work out. It was those early Apollo astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan that inspired me."

Endeavour Cmdr. Mark Kelly Answers Questions From Orbit

Q: How long does it take to get to space?

Kelly: We go from zero to 17,500 mph in 8 minutes and 20 seconds. When those main engines start, it's like being on a runaway train that is going 1000 mph.

Q: How fast do you go?

Kelly: Right now, we are going 17,500 mph. We see a sunrise and sunset every 45 minutes. If you go outside in spacewalk, it is in the vacuum of space. Even though you are going fast it is not like sticking your arm out the window of a car. You don't feel the air rushing by.

At the end of the session, Kelly showed the students a scrapbook he brought into space for them that he would give to Mesa Verde Elementary School after Endeavour lands in June.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


NASA Postpones Space Shuttle Launch After Equipment Failure

NASA(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- On Friday, NASA postponed the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour for at least 72 hours to investigate the failure of a key piece of technical equipment.

The space agency said the heater on one of Endeavour's three Auxiliary Power Units -- a device which powers the shuttle's speed brakes, elevons and landing gear -- malfunctioned as the astronauts were getting ready to board for liftoff. The shuttle would not be able to land safely without three healthy APUs.

Technicians will now drain the external fuel tank, go into the bottom of the shuttle and diagnose the problem.

The six astronauts, including Navy Capt. Mark Kelly who commands the mission, were dressed in their orange jumpsuits and headed to the launch pad when the announcement was made. The launch had been set for 3:47 p.m. ET.

The 14-day mission into space will be the last for the space shuttle Endeavour, and could yield new clues to the origin of the universe.

Endeavour's launch has drawn widespread attention because it's the second-to-last for the U.S. space shuttle program, and it's commanded by the husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January. Six people were killed and 13, including Giffords, were injured.

Despite her wounds, Giffords travelled to the Kennedy Space Center from her Houston hospital Wednesday. NASA said she would watch the launch in private. It's unclear whether Giffords will now remain in Florida.

The White House said President Obama and the first family would also be there, marking only the third time a sitting president has witnessed a shuttle launch.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


First Pictures of Giffords Since Shooting, Walking on Her Own

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images (file)(HOUSTON) -- A fragile but determined Rep. Gabrielle Giffords walked one careful step at a time Wednesday up the steps of a plane that will take her Florida to watch her husband blast off on the final mission of the space shuttle Endeavor.

The gritty walk by Giffords, who was wearing a padded medical helmet, was her first public steps since being shot in the head at a public event in January. The Arizona congresswoman left TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital and boarded a waiting NASA plane at Ellington Airport in Houston.

Giffords was spotted leaving the hospital in a wheelchair and with her face covered before being driven to the airport. At the airport, she walked under her own power and without assistance from the car to the plane stairway and slowly up the steps.

Giffords' staff has tried to keep her out of view from the public, and said she would not be making any public appearances during the Endeavor's launch. Giffords will be joined on Friday by Kelly's three daughters, President Obama and the first lady at Cape Canaveral to watch the launch.

Giffords' husband navy pilot and astronaut Mark Kelly arrived at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday.

On Monday, Giffords' staff said the congresswoman had just started learning details of the shooting that injured 13 people and killed 6, including federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.

Kelly's mission, STS 134, is the second to last space shuttle flight for NASA, and will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the space station. AMS will detect particles to prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of the formation of the universe. Kelly and five other astronauts on this mission are in quarantine now, standard practice before any space shuttle launch to keep the crew healthy for their mission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Plans to Attend Husband Mark Kelly's Shuttle Launch

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, just two months after receiving a gunshot wound to the head, plans to attend next month's launch of the space shuttle Endeavour piloted by her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly.

Arrangements are being made to host Giffords in the family viewing area at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., for the April 19 launch, sources told ABC News.

"It is a goal that we are working towards," said CJ Karamargin, a Giffords spokesman, "and we certainly hope that she will be there."

It is unlikely the public will see Giffords at the launch unless officials want her to be seen. NASA has kept the astronaut families far away from the media since the Challenger accident.

Giffords continues to recover at a Texas rehabilitation facility, where she was taken after she was shot in the head during an alleged assassination attempt in Tucson, Ariz., in January.

"We are very hopeful that Gabby can attend this historic launch," said her chief of staff, Pia Caruson. "Gabby is working hard every day and making remarkable progress, so chances are good that she'll be there."

The April 19 mission piloted by Kelly likely will be Endeavor's last and perhaps the last time any of the three remaining U.S. space shuttles will be sent to space.

It will be a complex 14-day mission with four spacewalks to install the alpha magnetic spectrometer, which will sift through cosmic rays to define the origins of the universe.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Remembering Challenger: 25 Years Ago Shuttle Exploded After Liftoff

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Just before noon on Jan. 28, 1986, people watched with excitement as the space shuttle Challenger lifted off from its Florida launch pad.

“It was 36 degrees at launch time, colder than NASA had ever launched a shuttle,” recalls ABC News correspondent Vic Ratner, who was on scene 25 years ago to broadcast the launch live to a national radio audience.

“Scraping the ice off my rental car that morning,” Ratner says, “I remember thinking, ‘They probably won't fly today. It's too cold.’”

But Challenger did launch.

“Pieces of ice tumble off as the coldest space shuttle launch ever gets underway,” Ratner announced on the 1986 broadcast. “Challenger seems to shake herself free of the ice and goes. All five rocket engines burning,” he said.

Seventy-three seconds later, the shuttle exploded.

“Not a word from mission control,” Ratner said. “Everybody here is open-mouthed.”

“Where is the shuttle, Vic?” asked Ratner’s partner, Bob Walker. “Can you see it?”

“Something has gone seriously wrong,” Ratner said.

All seven astronauts on board were killed.

One of its crew members was Christa McAuliffe, a school teacher from New Hampshire who had won a national competition to become the first teacher in space. The goal was to boost interest in space exploration among American school children, many of whom were watching the Challenger's launch live on television or in person.

A commission later concluded that NASA was too complacent that morning about the risks facing the shuttle and its astronauts.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio