The countdown to the made-for-cable space event keeps getting delayed: the shuttle Endeavour's final launch is now scheduled for no earlier than Monday, May 16th. This is appears to be the fourth time that NASA has informed news outlets that the date has been pushed back from its originally scheduled, heavily-hyped April 29th launch date.
The problem is still what initially delayed the shuttle's launch: an electrical glitch that led to failed heaters. As Space.com explains, "the heaters protect a crucial power unit, and without them, the unit would likely freeze on orbit and be unable to serve its role as one of three power sources for Endeavour's hydraulic systems during re-entry and landing." Officials are scheduled to give a progress report on May 9th and NASA seems to be emphasizing the "no earlier" part of its tenative May 16th date.
The problems, naturally, have been costly. Fox News reported that the first delay cost NASA $500,000 to drain the fuel propellant from the shuttle's external fuel tank. And if the Endeavour's mission to the International Space Station is pushed back any farther, it may also delay the absolute final launch of the space shuttle era: the Atlantis is scheduled to blast off on June 28th.
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