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Launch of space shuttle 'Endeavour' scrubbed

CAPE CANAVERAL — UPDATE: The Endeavour launch has been scrubbed. The soonest it will take off is Sunday afternoon, NASA officials say. The issue appears to be a faulty auxilary power unit heater.

Despite morning showers and chilly winds, space junkies turned out in droves Friday morning to grab choice viewing spots for the last launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.

Officials say Thursday night's storms did not damage the shuttle, and the launch team loaded more than a half-million gallons of fuel into Endeavour at dawn.

Just after noon the six-member crew, already suited up, headed out of their quarters and waved at a cheering crowd. Then they loaded into a Airstream trailer and left for the launch pad.

Forecasters say there is a 70 percent chance the weather will not interfere with Friday's take-off.

The launch, scheduled for 3:47 p.m., will be NASA's penultimate shuttle launch. The final launch is scheduled for late June.

The Dixon family, who drove from Michigan for their first launch viewing, got to a park along State Road A1A, south of Titusville, at about 7 a.m. They brought sandwiches, books, a radio and lawn chairs. Melvin Dixon, 70, wore an Endeavour souvenir shirt.

They were pleased to have a spot under a pavilion. Already prime locations in Titusville were filling up and parking spots going for $30.

Authorities expect at least 500,000 people to view Endeavour take off. President Obama and his family are expected to fly in Friday afternoon. Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, still recovering from a near-fatal shooting in Tucson, arrived Wednesday and will watch her husband take off into space from a private location.

Giffords' husband, Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, will lead the six-member shuttle crew to the International Space Station. During the 14-day mission, they will deliver supplies, including the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2, a particle detector that scientist hope will detect dark matter and antimatter.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

Launch of space shuttle 'Endeavour' scrubbed 04/29/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 29, 2011 1:26pm]
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