NASA sets date for shuttle Endeavour's final voyage
Updated: 2011-04-20 12:54
WASHINGTON - The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on Tuesday set April 29 as the launch date for Endeavour's final voyage.
The date was announced Tuesday at the conclusion of a flight readiness review at Kennedy Space Center. During the meeting, senior NASA and contractor managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the shuttle and station's equipment, support systems and personnel are ready.
Endeavour will deliver to the station a $2-billion, multinational particle detector known as the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.
The spectrometer, also designated AMS-02, is a particle physics experiment module that is to be mounted on the station. It is designed to search for various types of unusual matter by measuring cosmic rays. Its experiments will help researchers study the formation of the Universe and search for evidence of dark matter and antimatter.
Endeavour's two-week mission was led by Commander Mark Kelly. Other crew include Pilot Greg Johnson, NASA Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Andrew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff and European Space Agency Mission Specialist Roberto Vittori. Astronauts are planning to step out on four spacewalks to do maintenance work and install new components.
NASA's 30-year-old shuttle program is ending this year due to high operating costs. The Obama administration wants to spur private companies to get into the space taxi business, freeing NASA to focus on deep space exploration and new technology development.
Shuttle Atlantis is set for its final journey into space at the end of June. Its return to earth will mark the official end of the US space shuttle program. After that, the Russian space program's Soyuz capsule will be the only method for transporting astronauts to and from the station.
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