Monday, April 04, 2011

NASA Officials Slip Endeavour Launch To April 29

NASA is slipping the planned April 19 launch of shuttle Endeavour 10 days to clear the way for the previously scheduled departure and arrival of robotic Russian Progress cargo carriers at the International Space Station.

The 18-story shuttle and six astronauts now are slated to blast off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center at 3:47 p.m. April 29.

The launch date will be firmed up at an agency-level Flight Readiness Review on April 19.

The Progress 41 space freighter now docked at the station is scheduled to depart the outpost April 26 and head for a destructive plunge back through the atmosphere over remote areas of the Pacific Ocean.

Russian's Progress 42 spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome on April 27 and then dock at the outpost on April 29.

NASA officials had hoped the Progress 42 carrier could launch April 27 and then loiter until after Endeavour and its crew of six astronauts completed their mission and departed the station.

However, the Progress will be carrying up a time-critical science experiment, so loitring is not an option.

The Endeavour crew will deliver a $2 billion cosmic ray detector to the station along with a external stowage pallet that holds a spare radiator, high-pressure gas tank, an ammonia coolant tank and extra parts for the station's two-armed Canadian robot Dextre.

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