CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- With a visit to the Hubble Space Telescope off until next spring at the earliest, NASA on Thursday chose Nov. 14 for its next space shuttle launch, a flight by Endeavour to the international space station.
The Hubble repair mission had been planned for this month, but was postponed until next year because of problems with the orbiting telescope. The telescope is beaming back pictures again, but the spare part needed to completely resolve the issue won't be ready to fly before May, officials said Thursday.
As Hubble managers were announcing the setback, shuttle officials finalized plans to launch Endeavour with enough household items to increase the size of the space station crew from three to six next year, hopefully around May or June.
Endeavour will deliver equipment for a new water reclamation system, as well as an extra kitchen, toilet and sleeping compartments.
During the 15-day flight, the astronauts also will conduct four spacewalks to clean and repair a solar wing rotating joint that has been jammed for a year and hindered energy production. And another astronaut will take up residence at the space station, replacing Gregory Chamitoff, who has been on board since June.
Liftoff would be at 7:55 p.m.
Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's space operations chief, said the only difference of opinion in the day-long review involved pump inspections in the shuttle main engines. This new inspection will be conducted in the future before the engines are installed, but there's no urgency for doing it before Endeavour's upcoming flight, he said.
Gerstenmaier said the Hubble repair mission could be inserted anywhere in the space shuttle flight lineup, and that it would have little if any impact on space station operations. Ten shuttle missions remain until the entire fleet is retired in 2010 to make way for a new rocketship.