Poor weather delays space shuttle launch

CAPE CANAVERAL: The launch of the US space shuttle Endeavour was delayed by 24 hours early today due to bad weather over the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, NASA officials said. The delay was caused by a heavy cloud cover over Cape Canaveral, officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

“We tried really, really hard to work the weather, but it’s just too dynamic,” explained NASA’s launch director Mike Leinbach. “We are just not comfortable to launch the shuttle tonight. So, we have a 24-hour scrub.” The decision, which was made at 4:30 am (0930 GMT), comes as NASA begins to reevaluate its future after President Barack Obama effectively abandoned the US space agency’s plan to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020.

The Constellation programme was intended

to develop a successor spacecraft to the shuttle, which could be used to

carry astronauts to the moon where they would use a lunar base to launch manned missions to Mars.

Constrained by soaring budget deficits, Obama submitted a budget to Congress that encourages the agency to instead focus on developing commercial transport alternatives to ferry astronauts to the ISS after the shuttle programme ends.

There are just five missions scheduled for NASA’s three shuttles before the programme is scheduled to wind down later this year.