Forget the Royal Wedding, Obamas to Attend Shuttle Launch

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If the first family was fretting over not being invited to the royal wedding next week, at least they won't have to sit around the White House and watch it on TV. Instead, President Barack Obama and his family will come to Florida to watch one of the final launches of the space shuttle.

"I didn't realize when the wedding was when we moved the launch date," to April 29, Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for spaceflight, told reporters.

Endeavour had been targeted to launch April 19, but scheduling conflicts at the International Space Station prompted a 10-day delay. It now falls on the same day that Prince William and Kate Middleton plan to wed.

NASA routinely postpones shuttle launches for technical reasons or poor weather, but "wedding constraints" hasn’t made it to NASA's launch guidelines, "so we did not factor that in," deadpanned Gerstenmaier.

The launch is the next-to-last in the 30-year-old space shuttle program, which is ending due to high operating costs and to free up funds to develop new types of space vehicles that can travel beyond the 220-mile-high orbit of the International Space Station.

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Launch time is pegged for 3:47 p.m. EDT.

The Obamas can expect the royal treatment at Kennedy Space Center. When former President Bill Clinton, the last president to view a shuttle liftoff, attended in 1998, he got to watch from the roof of the Launch Control Center.

Image: President Obama at KSC last year to unveil new space plan; this year he's coming with his family to watch a shuttle fly. Credit: NASA