Monday, 2 May 2011

Stuck in a moment

It’s been all quiet on the space front today as NASA engineers work to remove and replace the faulty electrical distribution box before starting an exhaustive round of tests over at least 48 hours.

I had lunch at a Cuban restaurant called Roberto’s - a few miles south of Cocoa Beach - with Steve Young, who also had a stint working on Spaceflight magazine in the 1990s.

He bought Astronomy Now magazine on leaving Spaceflight and also launched the website.

Space Shuttle missions have been his great passion and Steve’s own ‘mission control’ is an office building (pictured below) at KSC, over-looking the countdown clock and launch pads.

Like for many Shuttle workers, things will probably have to change for the team after the final Shuttle mission is concluded this summer.

Which brings me to when the launch of Endeavour on the penultimate Space Shuttle flight might actually taken place.

A launch this coming Sunday, which also happens to be Mother’s Day in America, has already been ruled out as the repair work pushes the crew's next launch attempt to at least Tuesday, 10 May. An official launch date will probably not be announced until Friday, after repairs have been given the all-clear.

If liftoff doesn't occur next week things become decidedly more complex to organise at the Space Station - and there is even talk of the flight slipping right through to the end of June, the next most favourable launch window.

During last Friday’s countdown, the electrical fault could have easily gone either way. But it took the wrong path - and, to borrow the title from the U2 album ‘All that you can’t leave behind’, Endeavour became ‘Stuck in a moment you can’t get out of’.

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