NASA: Final Shuttle Mission Delayed

WASHINGTON, July 2 (UPI) — NASA said it is delaying the final shuttle mission, meant to deliver a physics experiment to the International Space Station, from November to February 2011.

NASA said delays in processing spare parts for the International Space Station, scheduled for a September mission now rescheduled for November, pushed the November mission back, the Orlando Sentinel reported Friday.

Some of the thousands of shuttle workers scheduled to be laid off after the November mission will have their jobs for another three months, the newspaper said.

After the February mission, the space station must survive until 2020 without the shuttle fleet’s massive carrying capacity to launch heavy parts into orbit.

Another factor in the delay, NASA said, is that several other spacecraft launches from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in the later part of the year.

“There’s a lot of what I call highway traffic,” NASA spokesman Kyle Herring said.

The rescheduling has affected the final two shuttle missions.

The Sept. 16 launch of Discovery, which is supposed to take the spare parts to the station, now moves to Nov. 1. That bumps the planned November launch of Endeavour and its payload of a major physics experiment into next year, NASA said.

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