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'Endeavour' launch set for May 16 at the earliest

NASA puts off 'Endeavour' launch till May 16 or later

NASA officials on Friday again postponed the final flight of the space shuttle Endeavour — this time until May 16 at the earliest.

The reason: a nagging electrical problem that engineers worry could lead to a major malfunction when the orbiter tries to land after its last trip to the International Space Station.

Technicians discovered the glitch last week just hours before Endeavour's scheduled April 29 takeoff. President Barack Obama and his family had flown into Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch, along with wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, whose husband, Mark Kelly, is Endeavour's commander.

NASA engineers suspect the problem lies with an electrical switch box that connect several systems. Among those systems: heaters that prevent fuel lines from freezing while the orbiter is in space. The lines help power the hydraulics system that runs essential functions, such as the orbiter's landing gear.

After Endeavour, NASA will have just one mission remaining: a planned June 28 launch of Atlantis to deliver spare parts to the station.

Orlando Sentinel

'Endeavour' launch set for May 16 at the earliest 05/06/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 6, 2011 9:34pm]
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