Friday, May 06, 2011

NASA leaning toward May 16 shuttle launch

NASA today is expected to announce plans for a May 16 second attempt at launching Endeavour on its final flight.

Senior space operations managers began meeting at 12:30 p.m., and NASA hasn't yet confirmed the target date. A news conference is expected this afternoon to discuss the new launch plan.

Shuttle teams currently are scheduled to work through the weekend to test systems connected to a new power switching box installed inside Endeavour's aft compartment.

A fuse blew in the old box, preventing it from turning on heaters on a hydraulic system fuel line and scrubbing an April 29 launch attempt.

Since the cause of a short circuit hasn't yet been determined, plans call for new wiring to be hooked up that would bypass potentially faulty wiring and make sure the heaters receive power, clearing the way for another launch attempt.

Endeavour's crew of six is expected to return to Kennedy Space Center four days before launch.

A May 16 launch would be planned for 8:56 a.m.