Washington: NASA has said that it expects repairs to be done in time for the space shuttle Endeavour to launch as planned on May 16, after a trio of delays forced by technical problems in a fuel heating line.
The US space agency confirmed the launch time of May 16 at 1256 GMT, set last week after the initial launch attempt was scrubbed hours before liftoff on April 29.
"We've got extremely high confidence... there should be no threats to the 16th launch date," said NASA shuttle program launch integration manager Mike Moses yesterday.
However, the delay has pushed back the final launch of the 30-year-old space shuttle program to an undetermined date, he said.
"We are not going to be able to tell you a launch date for 135," Moses said, referring to STS-135, the mission of the space shuttle Atlantis, which was set for June 28.
"I'm really sorry but we cannot estimate that," Moses continued, adding that NASA was considering mid-July but could offer no further confirmation until work schedules could be arranged.
He said rumors that NASA was considering a July 4 launch were unfounded, and that NASA was never targeting the US national holiday of Independence Day as a potential liftoff day.
The US space shuttle program is set to formally end after the Atlantis mission, leaving Russia's space capsules as the sole method of transit for astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
First Published: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, 09:24