NASA aims for pre-dawn space shuttle launch

NASA aims for pre-dawn space shuttle launch
# 07 February 2010 01:55 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. NASA aimed to launch shuttle Endeavour in the early morning darkness Sunday with the last major pieces of the International Space Station, APA reports citing “Associated Press”.

Stiff wind rattled the launching site Saturday afternoon, but forecasters were hopeful the gusts would subside in time for the 4:39 a.m. liftoff. The odds of good weather were 80 percent.

Endeavour is loaded with a new room for the space station, as well as an observation deck. Once both of those are installed, the orbiting complex will be 98 percent complete. The six astronauts assigned to the mission slept through the afternoon. They will work the graveyard shift during the 13-day flight.

In an hourlong news conference, Bolden accepted the blame for the way the NASA work force was informed of President Barack Obama’s plans to dismantle the Constellation moon exploration program. In the proposed budget that was released Monday, Obama set NASA on a new post-shuttle path. Specifics were lacking, but the moon was no longer at the forefront. Neither were the Ares rockets that NASA had been working on for so long. Shuttle managers on Friday used the words "shock" and "angst" to describe their colleagues’ mood.

As for the future, Bolden said the country needs a big rocketship to carry heavy loads if astronauts are to venture beyond Earth’s orbit. He said he wants to use the lessons of Constellation to capture new technologies and build that rocket.

Bolden said he envisions such a rocket — capable of carrying astronauts to the moon, Mars or asteroids — ready to fly sometime between 2020 and 2030. He personally favors Mars. Whatever the destination or rocket, the new way forward will be "significantly better than what we got rid of," Bolden said.
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