Final Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch On Monday


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Final Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch On Monday

By Shane Nolan

May 15, 2011 - NASA managers have set the liftoff of space shuttle Endeavour for 8:56 a.m. EDT on Monday, May 16. Launch attempts are available through May 26, except for May 21. The STS-134 mission to the International Space Station is the penultimate shuttle flight and the final one for Endeavour. 

A short in the heater circuit associated with Endeavour's hydraulic system resulted in the launch postponement. Technicians determined the most likely failure was inside a switchbox in the shuttle's aft compartment and associated electrical wiring connecting the switchbox to the heaters.

The heater circuits prevent freezing of the fuel lines providing hydraulic power to steer the vehicle during ascent and entry.

The faulty box was replaced May 4. Since Friday, Kennedy technicians installed and tested new wiring that bypasses the suspect electrical wiring and confirmed the heater system is working properly. They also are completing retests of other systems powered by the switchbox and are closing out Endeavour's aft compartment.

STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly and his five crewmates are set to arrive at Kennedy for prelaunch preparations on Thursday, May 12, at approximately 11 a.m. NASA Television will broadcast the crew's arrival live.

The crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS) and critical supplies to the space station, including two communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional parts for the Dextre robot. AMS is a particle physics detector designed to search for various types of unusual matter. The crew also will transfer Endeavour's orbiter boom sensor system to the station, where it could assist spacewalkers as an extension for the station's robotic arm.  

Space Shuttle Endeavour (Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-105) is one of two currently operational orbiters in the Space Shuttle fleet of NASA, the space agency of the United States. (The other is Atlantis.) Endeavour is the fifth and final spaceworthy NASA space shuttle to be built, constructed as a replacement for Challenger.  

Endeavour first flew in May 1992 on mission STS-49 and was scheduled for decommissioning in 2010. Before its decommissioning, NASA expects to use Endeavour for the STS-134 mission. Its STS-134 mission was originally thought as the final mission of the Space Shuttle program, however, the proposed STS-135 mission was approved, and now Atlantis will be the final Space Shuttle to fly.


The United States Congress authorized the construction of Endeavour in 1987 to replace Challenger, which was lost in the STS-51-L launch accident in 1986. Structural spares from the construction of Discovery and Atlantis, two of the three remaining operating shuttles at the time, were used in its assembly. The decision to build Endeavour was favored over refitting Enterprise on cost grounds.

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