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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space-related activities. In Florida, the shuttle Endeavour emerged from a severe weather siege late Thursday that slowed some countdown activities. By early dawn Friday, NASA was back on track for a launch attempt at 3:47 p.m. EDT. The weather outlook was 70 percent favorable, though it includes the possibility of low clouds and crosswinds at the shuttle’s Kennedy runway that could be factors.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA aims for a lift off of Endeavour at 3:47 p.m., EDT. Mission managers met just before 6 a.m. to approve the next major milestone, loading of the external fuel tank with chilled propellants. Spaceflightnow.com will provide regular updates as well as a web cast starting at 11 a.m., EDT. The 14-day mission will be the last trip to orbit for Endeavour, which is headed for retirement behind Discovery.
A. From the Washington Post: Among scientists, Endeavour’s star power is her primary payload, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a first of its kind space particle detector that will enable physicists to better characterize the cosmic fabric. Confirmation of elusive anti-matter would add another pillar beneath the big bang theory as well as the space station’s scientific legacy.
2. From Florida Today: In an op-ed, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden offers a bright future for NASA and Endeavour’s Kennedy Space Center launch site. The Florida spaceport will lead the agency’s development of commercial crew space transportation services, President Obama’s commitment to space exploration remains strong, the White House plans to spend billions in Central Florida upgrading the historic launch site, Bolden writes. He acknowledges the difficulty of the transition away form the shuttle as well.
A. From the Wall Street Journal: The prospect of Endeavour’s final mission, with the First Family looking on as the spacecraft’s six astronaut lift off, obscures deeper problems for NASA. With the shuttle program nearing a July retirement, the White House and Congress remain at odds over the future of human spaceflight.
B. From the Wall Street Journal: There are a few but not many bright spots on the employment front for thousands of NASA shuttle program workers facing layoffs as the long running program nears retirement. There’s a new car company, a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer and some hiring among slowly emerging commercial launch companies.
3. From the New York Times: The scene from Titusville, Fla., which offers a jaw dropping scene across the St. Johns River, where the shuttle climbs to orbit. For a few hours there are traffic jams and a wait at the town’s best known restaurants. It’s a ritual that’s about to disappear.
A. From the Houston Chronicle: The mood is “bittersweet” among the many onlookers gathering around Cape Canaveral to watch Endeavour lift off.
4. From Ria Novosti of Russia: Launched April Wednesday, Russia’s latest Progress supply capsule is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station just hours before Endeavour’s astronauts lift off for the orbiting science laboratory at 3:47 p.m., EDT. The Progress docking is set for 10:29 a.m., EDT. NASA delayed plans for an April 19 launching of Endeavour to accommodate the Progress supply mission.
5. From CNN: Endeavour’s first commander, NASA astronaut Dan Brandenstein, reflects on the 1992 voyage. Endeavour was flawless, he recalls.
A. From the St. Petersburg Times: NASA astronaut Nicole Stott attracts an enthusiastic crowd of students as she visits a Tampa, Florida area high school. Many of them followed their hometown astronaut by social media and traditional news media as she flew aboard the shuttle Discovery in March. Don’t limit what you strive to achieve Stott advises the students.
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