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Endeavour's swansong delayed ten days

NASA knocks back shuttle launch

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NASA has knocked back the last launch of space shuttle Endeavour from 19 April to 29 April to avoid a "scheduling conflict" with the Russian Progress supply vehicle - slated to dock with the International Space Station on the 29th of this month.

Endeavour's swansong STS-134 mission will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the orbiting outpost. Commander Mark Kelly, pilot Gregory H. Johnson, and mission specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel, and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori took time during a simulated countdown on Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A to pose for this fetching snap:*

The Endeavour crew. Pic: NASA

Later this evening, cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyayev, plus astronaut Ronald Garan will blast off aboard the Soyuz TMA-21 ahead of a 6 April orbital handshake with fellow Expedition 27 members commander Dmitry Kondratyev, European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, and NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, already aboard the ISS.

The TMA-21 is named in honour of Yuri Gagarin, and will lift off a week before the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's historic launch from the same launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. ®

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* You'll have to work out for yourselves who's who - NASA's caption is typically vague.

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