CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., April 27 (UPI) — NASA says it is planning some changes in the launch dates for the last two scheduled space shuttle flights, pushing the date for the final flight to November.
Space agency managers said the decision to extend International Space Station operations until at least 2020 will necessitate some changes to the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer that will be installed at the space station.
Scientists said they want to make sure the magnet in the particle detector experiment is capable of working much longer than planned to accommodate the extension of space station operations.
The experiment is designed to study the formation of the universe by searching for evidence of dark matter and antimatter by measuring cosmic rays.
Because of the magnet change and the time required to facilitate it, NASA said space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 mission — which will carry the experiment to the station and was targeted to launch July 29 — now is expected to launch no earlier than mid-November. An exact target launch date has not yet been set.
“Space shuttle Discovery’s STS-133 mission currently remains targeted for its Sept. 16 launch date, but managers will continue to assess its readiness for flight and make changes as appropriate,” the space agency said in a statement. “The next shuttle flight, Atlantis’ STS-132 mission targeted for launch May 14, remains on track with no changes.”
The Atlantis launch will mark the final scheduled mission for that space shuttle.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.