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Entries in Shuttle Launch (2)

Friday
Apr292011

Space Shuttle Endeavour's Final Launch Is Today

NASA/Terry Zaperach UPDATE: Friday's launch has been scrubbed as workers try to repair a mechanical issue with the shuttle.

(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will be on hand Friday for the final launch of space shuttle Endeavour, watching from a restricted viewing area at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Barring a weather problem or technical difficulties, the penultimate flight of the shuttle program is scheduled for a 3:47 p.m. ET liftoff.

Ordinarily, it would be the final flight of Atlantis this June that would gather most of the media attention, but the human interest angle of this mission is particularly compelling because Giffords’ husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, is Endeavour's commander.

The Democratic congresswoman was gravely wounded on Jan. 8 when a gunman opened fire at a meet-and-greet event in Tucson, Arizona.  Giffords nearly died from a bullet wound to the brain, while six people were killed and a dozen others were injured.

Initially, doctors called Giffords' recovery miraculous but since being transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Houston, the progress has been more measured.  The congresswoman’s personality is said to be fully evident and while she can speak in simple sentences and walk, doctors contend her road back to full health will be long and difficult.

Still, Kelly says his wife was anxious to attend the launch and her medical staff gave her the okay to travel.  The couple have been married since November 2007.

During the 14-day mission to the International Space Station, Kelly and his crew will install a variety of equipment on the International Space Station, including a particle physics detector that searches for unusual subatomic matter.

They’ll also be taking space walks, conducting experiments and doing maintenance.

Besides Giffords, President Obama, the first lady and their two children will be on hand at Kennedy Space Center to watch Endeavour blast off.´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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´╗┐







ABC News Radio