Gov't shutdown could delay Endeavour launch

NASA says a weeklong shutdown could delay shuttle's April 29 liftoff

NASA confirmed Friday that a government shutdown could delay the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.

As Democrats and Republicans wrangled to come up with a budget plan, the odds of a government shutdown increased.

A NASA spokesman told Computerworld that while a shut down that lasts only a few days should not affect the scheduled April 29 shuttle launch, a longer shutdown would. If the federal government is closed for a week or more, the Endeavour would not be able to lift off as scheduled, the spokesman said. "We would have to re-evaluate," he said.

The upcoming launch is the last one for Endeavour before the entire fleet is retired .

Endeavour already has had some tough luck on its final space venture. Last week, NASA had to push back the shuttle's launch date by 10 days because of a scheduling conflict.

The space agency had to scrap the initial launch date of April 19 because of a conflict with a Russian Progress supply vehicle that is set to launch April 27 and arrive at the International Space Station on April 29. On the initial schedule, Endeavour would have been docked at the space station when the Russian vehicle arrived, and the station is not equipped to handle two spacecrafts at the same time.

When Endeavour lifts off, it will head out on a 14-day mission to the space station to deliver supplies and spare parts, including two S-band communication antennas, robotic parts and a meteor debris shield.

Space shuttle Discovery made its final trip into space in February.

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to make its final launch June 28. After the Atlantis mission, the shuttle fleet will be officially retired.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is .

Read more about hardware in Computerworld's Hardware Topic Center.

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