Technical problem keeps Endeavour on the pad until at least Monday

By: Chad Mills Email
By: Chad Mills Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, April 29, 2011

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.---With the five other Endeavour astronauts, Commander Mark Kelly walked out to board the van to the launch pad. The eyes of the nation, perhaps the world, were on him.

His wife is Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in Arizona in January. She left her rehab clinic in Houston to be here in Florida to watch her husband, who sat by her bedside for hours, days, and weeks.

But today his trip to the launch pad was pretty short. Mission managers announced that the launch would be scrubbed, or canceled, for the day.

A technical problem in two of the shuttle's heating units was the issue.

NASA engineers say that it's a problem they'll need multiple days to fix. Space Shuttle Endeavour will launch no sooner than Monday afternoon.

When it does launch, it will mark the 25th and last flight for Endeavour. The 14-day mission will send the shuttle to the International Space Station, where astronauts will deliver a part called an Astro-Magnetic Spectrometer. It's designed to discover unusual particles and matter throughout our solar system.

When the shuttle returns, it will be prepped for its retirement. There will be one final shuttle flight of Space Shuttle Atlantis, which is scheduled for June now, but then the program will be over.

Despite the cancellation of today's launch, President Barack Obama and his family still decided to stop by. They boarded the Marine One helicopter and flew by the launch pad and later visited Space Shuttle Atlantis.

Launch Director Mike Leinbach says the earliest Endeavour can launch will be Monday at 2:33 PM. Work will begin on Endeavour tonight.

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