Sunday, April 24, 2011

NASA clears shuttle Endeavour for April 29 launch

The shuttle Endeavour was cleared for a launch attempt on April 29 to deliver a new class of physics instrument to the International Space Station on NASA's next-to-last shuttle flight, officials said Tuesday. Liftoff of the 134th shuttle mission is scheduled for 3:47 p.m. EDT from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The all-veteran crew is led by Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from a January 8 shooting that killed six people and injured 12 others.

Pending approval from her doctors, Giffords, who has not been seen publicly since the attack outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store, plans to attend the launch, Kelly has said. The primary purpose of the flight is to deliver the $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, or AMS, particle detector, an instrument designed to detect dark matter, antimatter and other exotic phenomena.

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