The opportunities to watch a NASA shuttle launch live, in person, are dwindling. The planned launch of Endeavour will be the second to the last of NASA’s current shuttle fleet to blast off into space – barring some unforeseen last second circumstance and funding that extends the life of the shuttle program.
An estimated 750,000 hopeful launch watchers flocked to the Cape Canaveral area on April 29th, only to be disappointed when the launch fizzled. The reason? A malfunctioning aft load control assembly-2 (ALCA-2).
As we discovered and posted here, hotels around the launch area were quickly booked full during the date of the first launch attempt. The next attempt was set for May 8th, but this morning NASA announced that it would be pushed back until at least May 10th. Space.com reports that the launch time would be 11:21 am (Eastern Time). But that’s only if May 10th is set as the official launch date, which NASA has not yet done.
NASA has not said when they will confirm a date for the next try at a shuttle launch, which makes any kind of plans to watch it live quite a challenge. May 10th is a Tuesday, and a survey of hotel sites in the Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach areas finds most of them reporting vacancies that evening. But the launch window is pretty wide, it extends almost to the end of May.
According to a recent report on Chron.com, the chances of a launch on the second try are a bit worse than the first. Going all the way back to the beginning of the shuttle program, about 40% of launches lifted off on the first attempt. 30% lifted off on second attempts.