Wednesday, 4 May 2011

See you later

I’ll be heading back to England on a flight leaving at teatime this evening, leaving behind some hot sunshine, blues skies and cheap (for us Brits) car fuel.

By now there should have been just one more Space Shuttle blastoff to come. But Endeavour, now cocooned is the grey metalwork of launch pad 39A, was in no mood to go for its final flight time at the first attempt.

Yesterday, the Load Control Assembly-2 (LCA-2), which feeds power to the fuel line heaters, was removed from inside Endeavour's aft section (NASA picture below).

It is believed to have caused the heaters for Endeavour's auxiliary power unit-1 (APU-1) to fail on 29 April during the first launch attempt. The assembly is now being replaced and systems will be retested before the launch is rescheduled.

When it eventually gets off the ground, the STS-134 mission will deliver the Express Logistics Carrier-3, Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 (AMS), a high-pressure gas tank and additional spare parts for the Dextre robotic helper to the International Space Station.

So, this is the Lighthouse Keeper signing off from Cape Canaveral for now, as I have to go pack my bags. Hope you’ve enjoyed this foray into the world of NASA and the Space Shuttle - and thank you for joining me.

The era of one of the most remarkable flying machines ever built is almost ended. But, for the moment at least, Endeavour lives to fly another day.

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