Might be hard to squeeze in
Once again, the highly-anticipated space shuttle launch has been delayed.
NASA announced Sunday morning that the launch will not take place Monday and officials are unsure when it might occur.
The launch of the space shuttle Endeavour was originally scheduled for last Friday but was scrubbed only hours before liftoff when a switchbox called the load control assembly malfunctioned. Officials originally thought that the problem was in a much-easier-to-reach thermostat. Engineers will likely need an additional two more days to fix and replace the switchbox.
A possible end-of-the-week launch is complicated by the fact that the Air Force plans to launch its own rocket, an Atlas V, on Friday, from Canaveral Air Force Station, adjacent to Kennedy Space Center. NASA officials are consulting with the Air Force to see it that launch might be delayed.
The Chicago Tribune reports that if NASA cannot squeeze an Endeavour launch in by Saturday, the next opportunity might not be until May 10 or 11 because the Russians are launching a Soyuz to the International Space Station, and Endeavour would have to wait until it leaves before the shuttle can dock there.
The launch has attracted more attention than usual because Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords traveled to Florida to see her husband, space shuttle commander Mark Kelly, participate in the liftoff. Officials have not said if Giffords, who is undergoing rehabilitation at TIRR (The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research) Memorial Hermann from gunshot wounds received in the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson will return to Houston or wait in Florida for the launch.
The Associated Press reports that the astronaut team— led by Kelly — headed back to Houston. Giffords did not join the astronauts in flying back.