NASA's space shuttle Endeavour is ready to launch on its final voyage April 29, top mission managers decided Tuesday.
Shuttle officials approved the launch plan after a daylong meeting called the Flight Readiness Review, which allowed mission managers to discuss Endeavour's mission plan in detail and consider any possible issues that might delay liftoff.
None being found, officials decided to move forward with the target date of April 29 at 3:47 p.m. ET for Endeavour's final blastoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Endeavour is slated to carry six astronauts, a cargo bay full of spare supplies and a $2 billion astrophysics experiment to the International Space Station. Veteran astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., will command the mission.
Kelly has spoken of his hope that Giffords will be able to attend the launch in person from Florida, despite the fact that she is still undergoing rehabilitation at a Texas hospital to recover after being shot in the head outside a Tucson grocery store in January.
Endeavour's STS-134 mission will include four jam-packed spacewalks to install the spare parts and upgrade the orbiting laboratory. Currently, the trip is scheduled to last 14 days, but NASA has the option to extend the mission by up to two extra days to fit in more work if necessary.
Endeavour's upcoming voyage is the second-to-last space shuttle launch planned before NASA retires its 30-year-old shuttle fleet. After the mission, Endeavour will be sent to the California Science Center for public display. Its sister orbiters, Discovery and Atlantis, will be retired at other museums.
The final space shuttle mission, the STS-135 flight of Atlantis, is targeted for June 28.
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