Dual countdowns are under way at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. The traditional three-day countdown for launching of a space shuttle began Friday morning. There also is a 60-day clock running for about half the shuttle workforce who will be out of a job when NASA ends the shuttle program this summer.
Endeavour’s second launch attempt is slated for 8:56 a.m. EDT on Monday. The first try on April 29 ended a few hours before the planned liftoff when a heater in one of the ship’s onboard power generators failed.
The problem has been fixed and the weather is looking good for liftoff on what would be NASA’s second-to-last shuttle mission. The shuttle and its six-man crew will be delivering the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and spare parts to the space station.
The shuttle’s launch means the end is one step closer for about half of United Space Alliance’s employees. The company is NASA’s prime shuttle contractor. This week, layoff notices went out to about 2,800 of the company’s 5,600 employees to tell them that they could be out of a job in 60 days.
For 626 employees, the impending layoff was no surprise — they volunteered, United Space Alliance spokeswoman Tracy Yates tells Discovery News.
For the rest, there’s a bit of a silver lining: Delays launching Endeavour will push back the final shuttle mission from late June to July, bringing a few weeks’ reprieve for some workers.
Image: Endeavour, ready for launch one last time. Credit: NASA