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Entries in Shuttle Endeavour (1)

Monday
Apr042011

Scheduling Conflict Pushes Shuttle Launch to Royal Wedding Date

BRUCE WEAVER/AFP/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, have never met Prince William and his bride, Kate Middleton, but they may well meet in the headlines on April 29. A delay by NASA means the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, commanded by Capt. Kelly, is now scheduled for the same day as the royal wedding.

NASA realized over the weekend that it faced a traffic jam, even in the void of space 200 miles above the Earth's surface. The shuttle launch -- already pushed back from February -- had been set for April 19, but NASA managers decided after a Sunday meeting not to try.

On April 27, the Russians are scheduled to launch a Progress supply ship to the space station, and on Sunday they told their American counterparts they could not delay it. Some of its cargo is perishable.

If Endeavour had tried to launch on the 19th, and delayed just a few days, it might still have been docked to the station when the Russian Progress ship arrived. NASA has rules about having a remote-controlled cargo ship dock with the station while a space shuttle is also there, so rather than press their luck, they decided to wait 10 days.

For anyone following both events, there will be breathing room between them. The wedding ceremony begins at 11 a.m. London time (6 a.m. in Florida), and the launch is scheduled for 3:47 p.m. EDT (8:47 p.m. London time).

Of course, the shuttle launch is getting extra attention because Kelly almost had to give up his chance to fly because of the injuries to his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who suffered a brain injury in the January shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Kelly decided, after several weeks of uncertainty, that she was recovering well enough that he could command the mission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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