Before it retires for good, the space shuttle Endeavour has one final mission, which is planned for April 29.
NASA announced the new launch date for the final mission for the well-traveled spacecraft Endeavour after having to delay it due to the coinciding launch of a Russian rocket. After a thorough Flight Readiness Review, NASA says everything is ready for the April 29 launch.
We had a very extensive and thorough review today, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for Space Operations, said in a statement. I think the things that impressed me the most is that the team is still continuing to really work issues and look at the vehicle performance on each and every flight just like they would during any normal mission.
Endeavour's 25th and final flight into space this month marks the penultimate shuttle flight for the 30-year program that began during the early Reagan years. Recently, the space shuttle Discovery flew its final mission, and after Endeavour, the space shuttle Atlantis will fly its final mission. The three of them, along with the prototype shuttle Enterprise, will head to four museums across the country.
The mission will last two weeks and will include four space walks and a trip to the International Space Station. The crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) to the I.S.S. The AMS is designed to help researchers study the formation of the universe by measuring cosmic rays. The crew will also be responsible for maintenance work and installing new components.
The Endeavour has gotten a lot of publicity not only because it's the last mission for the shuttle, but because it will be commanded by Mark Kelly. Kelly is the husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot by would-be assassin Jared Lee Loughner in Arizona a few months ago.