Thursday, April 23, 2009

NASA to try to launch Atlantis a day early

LIVE IMAGES: Refresh this page for updates and the latest still image from NASA TV.FLORIDA TODAY's James Dean reports from the Hubble briefing (updated at 1:30 p.m.):

NASA is working to launch space shuttle Atlantis to the Hubble Space Telescope a day earlier than planned, on May 11.

The Air Force's Eastern Range does not have dates available after for about a week after May 13, said LeRoy Cain, deputy shuttle program manager, during a briefing this morning.

NASA prefers to have three launch opportunities before standing down. May 20 would be the next available date.

The launch of a weather and climate observation satellite on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket is expected to be delayed past its most recent May 20 target date.

The Eastern Range tracks all rockets launched from KSC and Cape Canaveral to make sure they don't stray off course and endanger people or property. A spokesman could not immediately confirm why launch dates were unavailable for a week, but it could be due to planned military exercises.

Cain said teams believe the 11th is doable, but a decision would be made at a flight readiness review next Thursday.

The main challenge is the readiness of the Hubble payload.

A slip past May 20 could force Endeavour's next mission, now targeted for launch June 13, to slip to July.

Check back for more updates.


Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure the reason is not the Delta IV. They said it was a classified military excessive. The Delta IV launch is showing it was delayed even further now.

James Dean said...

Thanks for the comment, and you're right. The Delta IV is still on the range for May 20, but it appears that's going to slip. We don't have a new date confirmed yet.