Shuttle launch update: February 24 and April 19. Maybe.

By Phil Plait | January 13, 2011 5:14 pm

NASA has announced the target launch dates of the last two flights of the Shuttle: February 24 at 16:50 Eastern time for the beleaguered Discovery, and April 19 at 19:48 Eastern for Endeavour.

Discovery’s launch has been delayed several times due to cracks found in the external tank. Foam falling off that tank is what doomed Columbia, so NASA takes issues with the ET very seriously. Repairs have been underway to strengthen and reinforce the cracked supports, and NASA is now confident the fixes will work.

Endeavour’s launch, like Discovery’s will be her last. It will also be the last of the Shuttle program. The commander is Mark Kelly, whose wife, Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was the victim of the Tucson shooting last week. NASA has announced a backup commander in case Kelly cannot fly, but we’ll see how that works out. Giffords is reportedly doing well, and she is such a strong supporter of the space program it wouldn’t surprise me if she urges him to fly. The symbolism of that would be particularly strong, I think.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA
ADVERTISEMENT

Comments are closed.

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+