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Obama to pop down to Endeavour launch

Shuttle's last mission gets presidential send-off

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Barack Obama will pop down to Kennedy Space Center for next week's launch of space shuttle Endeavour, Reuters reports.

The president may be joined by Gabrielle Giffords, wife of Endeavour commander Mark Kelly. She's still recovering from the head wound she received in the 8 January Tuscon shooting, and doctors will need to give final approval if she's to wave her hubby off on the STS-134 mission to the International Space Station.

Endeavour's swansong flight, due to begin on 29 April at 19:47 GMT, will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the orbiting outpost. Once its 25th mission wraps, the veteran vehicle will go on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

Discovery, which bowed out on 9 March after completing 39 missions, is destined for the Udvar-Hazy Center at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum, in Virginia.

The last pencilled shuttle launch is that of Atlantis, slated for 28 June. After a final visit to the ISS, it will find a home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. ®

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