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Government Shutdown May Delay Space Shuttle Launch

NASA confirmed on April 8th, 2011 that a government shutdown might delay the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. The odds of a shutdown increased when Democrats and Republicans wrestled over a budget plan. According to Computerworld, a NASA spokesman said that although a shutdown lasting only a few days would not “affect the scheduled April 29 shuttle launch, a longer shutdown” would.

The federal government cannot close for over a week if the Endeavour is to stick to schedule. As previously mentioned, this will be Endeavour’s final flight before the fleet is retired. This conflict isn’t new for NASA as they had already pushed back the launch date by ten days due to a scheduling conflict.

The spacecraft was originally supposed to launch on April 19th but was delayed due to a conflict with a Russian Progress vehicle. The International Space Station cannot handle two spacecrafts at the same time. When the Endeavour finally does lift off, it will be out on a two week mission to the space station to delivery supplies, two S-band communication antennas, robotic parts, and a meteor debris shield. This will follow Discovery’s mission which occurred in February. After Endeavour’s mission, space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to make its final launch on June 28th, this will also be Atlantis’ last mission. See the video to check out Endeavour’s 2008 and 2009 launch.

Photo Courtesy of Turbo Joe
Photo Courtesy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center