Shuttle crew at space center for next launch

Shuttle crew returned to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday to prepare for a second launch attempt.

Updated: May 13, 2011, 09:38 AM IST

Cape Canveral, Fla: Space shuttle Endeavour commander Mark Kelly and his crew returned to the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday to prepare for a second launch attempt to the International Space Station.
Endeavour is scheduled to lift off on NASA`s 134th and next-to-last shuttle mission Monday at 8:56 a.m. local time.

"It`s great to be back," Kelly said. "Four days from now we should all be strapped in and ready to go. Hopefully the weather will be good."

Endeavour`s first launch attempt on April 29 was called off about four hours before liftoff when engineers detected a problem with a heating system in one of the ship`s onboard power units. Technicians replaced an electronics switching box and rewired the circuit.

Kelly`s wife, the recuperating U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was due to return to Florida later in the week to watch the launch.

Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, was nearly killed in a mass shooting January 8 that killed six people. She is undergoing rehabilitation in Houston. Her first excursion since the shooting was to Florida for Endeavour`s April 29 attempt.

The shuttle will be delivering a $2 billion particle physics experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

NASA is retiring its three-ship shuttle fleet this summer due to high operating costs and to develop spaceships that can travel beyond the station`s 220-mile-high orbit. The U.S. space agency expects to unveil its plan for a new launcher in June, said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana.

Bureau Report