Endeavour’s launch, expected to be the 2nd to last NASA space shuttle to be sent into space, is now officially set for April 29th, 2011.
If all goes as planned, it will lift off at 3:47 pm (Eastern Standard Time), in what will undoubtedly be an emotional event. Not only will it be Endeavour’s final flight into space, and the 2nd to the last planned space shuttle launch, but it will also be pulling at the heart strings for another reason. The flight will be commanded by Captain Mark Kelly, the husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously injured in a shooting at a Safeway supermarket near Tucson, Arizona, in January of this year. She is still recovering from the head wound she received in the shooting, but her staff has indicated that she hopes to attend the launch.
Endeavour’s final mission is scheduled to be 14 days long. This will be its 33rd flight, and the purpose of the mission is to take supplies, spare parts and a $2 billion particle physics detector to the International Space Station. Four spacewalks are planned during the mission.
Though scheduled for an April 29th lift off, the launch window extends to May 4th. If conditions arise that cause a delay past the May 4th deadline, another launch window opens May 8th, according to NASA.
Crowds are expected to form early in key launch-viewing areas. A search of hotel availability by Sure Start News found that every hotel surveyed in the Titusville, Cocoa Beach, and Merrit Island areas are reporting that they are booked full on the night of April 29th. A limited number of rooms are reported to be available (as of the evening of April 19th) in New Smyrna Beach and Palm Bay.