NASA announced recently it will be delaying the upcoming launch of the space shuttle Endeavour -- the final one for the well-traveled spacecraft.
Endeavour was originally slated to launch April 19, but due to a scheduling conflict NASA is delaying it. Likely, NASA will delay it 10 days to April 29, but nothing is official yet. The space agency said the move comes from a scheduling conflict with a Russian Progress supply vehicle scheduled to launch April 27 and arrive at the station April 29.
NASA said it will hold a Flight Readiness Review on the original date of the launch, April 19, to assess the team's readiness to support launch. At that time, the agency will select the official launch date.
During an inspection this weekend, only minor damage was discovered to Endeavour's external fuel tank foam. Overall, there was no significant damage to the spacecraft that would prevent it from making its 25th and final flight into space this month. It's the penultimate mission for the 30-year space shuttle program that began during the early Reagan years.
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 ISS. The AMS is designed to help researchers study the origins of the universe by measuring cosmic rays. The crew will also be responsible for maintenance work and installing new components.
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The Endeavour has gotten a lot of publicity not only because it's the last mission, 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.