NASA Delays Hubble Mission

CAPE CANAVERAL, FloridaNASA is delaying next month’s shuttle launch to the Hubble Space Telescope because of problems stemming from Hurricane Ike and the preparation of replacement parts for the observatory.

The space shuttle Atlantis is now set to blast off at 10:19 p.m. ET on October 14 for the last visit to the orbiting telescope, officials said Wednesday. Liftoff had been scheduled for the wee hours of October 10, technically making this a five-day postponement.

Atlantis’ seven astronauts, who wrapped up a practice countdown at the launching site Wednesday, lost a week of training because of Hurricane Ike. The hurricane shut down the Johnson Space Center in Houston which did not reopen until this week.

Payload problems also contributed to the delay. Last week, NASA had trouble with the insulation on replacement batteries for Hubble and over the weekend, encountered snags loading the equipment at the launch pad.

The delay also pushes back the launch of Endeavour’s space station mission to November 16. Endeavour will serve as the rescue ship if there is an emergency.

Tropical storms Fay and Hanna prompted NASA earlier this month to put off the Hubble flight by two days with original launch date October 8.

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