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NASA calls off Endeavour launch attempt due to technical problem

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NASA calls off Endeavour launch attempt due to technical problem

2011-04-30 00:16:06 GMT+7 (ICT)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (BNO NEWS) -- The launch attempt of the space shuttle Endeavour was called off on Friday afternoon due to a technical problem with its heaters.

With weather 70 percent 'go', the space shuttle Endeavour was expected to launch on its last flight into space at 3.47 p.m. Eastern time on Friday. But a last-minute problem with the spacecraft's heaters forced NASA to cancel the launch.

Shuttle Launch Director Mike Leinbach said there is an issue associated with Auxiliary Power Unit 1 heaters, but the extend of the problem was not immediately known. "The engineering team did not understand how this problem occurred and did not feel comfortable proceeding with a launch attempt," NASA Commentator George Diller said on NASA TV.

Leinbach confirmed the agency would need at least 72 hours for another launch attempt, which means the earliest launch attempt could happen on Monday afternoon. But he warned it is likely that the agency would need longer to solve the problem and prepare the shuttle.

Earlier on Friday, NASA said there were no known technical concerns, and tanking operations had begun at 6.22 a.m. Eastern and concluded three hours later at 9.24 a.m. Eastern, when Endeavour's external tank was loaded with more than 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

As a result of the cancellation, the external fuel tank will be drained of its oxygen and hydrogen propellants while the STS-134 astronauts return back to the Operations and Checkout Building. They were inside the so-called Astrovan when NASA made the call to stop the countdown.

Endeavour's launch is followed closely for a number of reasons, including the expected attendance of U.S. President Barack Obama and Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recovering from being shot in the head during an assassination attempt in January.

But it is also the last ever launch of Endeavour before its retirement, which it will spend at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Space shuttle Atlantis will fly the last planned shuttle mission in June, after it will be displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor's Complex.

The White House said Obama would still travel to Florida despite the launch attempt being scrubbed, but it was not immediately clear if he would return for a launch attempt next week.

The crew members for space shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission are Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

During the 14-day mission, Endeavour and its crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for Dextre.


-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-04-30

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