NASA Delays Space Shuttle Endeavour Launch
Last-minute weather concerns forced NASA to scratch the Feb. 7 predawn
launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. Less than an hour before the scheduled 4:39 a.m. EST blastoff, NASA was hopeful the
weather would clear, but the space agency finally ordered a stand-down at 4:31 a.m.
NASA now hopes a 24-hour delay will find an open weather window, with the next tentative launch tentatively set for 4:14 a.m. EST Feb. 8. However, a final decision will not be made until forecasts for Monday and Tuesday mornings are considered.
"We were just not comfortable with launching the shuttle tonight," Launch Director Mike Leinbach radioed to Endeavour.
The flight will be Endeavour's 24th mission, the 33rd shuttle flight dedicated to station assembly and maintenance and the first of five last shuttle missions before NASA mothballs the shuttle fleet at the end of 2010.
Endeavour's primary mission will be the delivery of the Tranquility node, the final module of the U.S. portion of the space station. Tranquility will provide additional room for crew members, as well as many of the space station's life support and environmental control systems. Attached to the node is a cupola, which houses a robotic control station and has seven windows to provide a panoramic view of Earth, celestial objects and visiting spacecraft.
Spanning about 22 feet in length and 14 feet in diameter, Tranquility's connection point on the station will be on the Earth-facing side of the Unity node. The new component will provide an additional docking point for space shuttles and other crew vehicles visiting the station.
According to NASA, the cupola's windows will be more than trim. As more cargo vehicles begin frequenting the space station, the station's robotic arm is going to be called into action to capture some of them as they approach and guide them into their docking port. The cupola will provide additional views for those operations.