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The Sciences

FYI: Final Shuttle launch dates changed

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJuly 1, 2010 11:00 PM
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NASA just announced date changes for the next Shuttle launches: STS 133 with Discovery is planned for a 16:33 EDT launch on Nov. 1 , 2010. STS 134's Endeavour will fly on February 26, 2011 at 16:19 EDT. According to the press release:

The target dates were adjusted because critical payload hardware for STS-133 will not be ready in time to support the previously plannedSept. 16 launch. With STS-133 moving to November, STS-134 cannot fly as planned, so the next available launch window is in February 2011.

Both flights will carry payloads up to the space station, but Endeavour will be lofting the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, an expensive piece of scientific equipment. That makes me happy; it was unclear for a long time that the AMS would ever make it to space. ... but that's it. These are the last two launches of the Shuttle, unless NASA, Congress, and the President decide to do more. I suspect that will add a huge budget burden to the program, since it's now winding down. But the way of space is not yet decided, and we'll see how things shake out in the coming months.

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