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NASA Hopes to Move Up Shuttle Launch Dates

End in Sight: Final Space Shuttle Missions Slated
Space shuttle Discovery is purged - providing cool and humidified air conditioning to the payload bay and other cavities to remove any residual explosive or toxic fumes – while still on the runway.
(Image: © NASA/Kim Shiflett)

NASA wants to move uplaunch dates for its next two shuttle missions to ensure the second can be sentup before a window of opportunity closes in late November, officials saidTuesday.

But it is unlikely NASA canadvance the Oct. 8 launch of a HubbleSpace Telescope servicing mission more than a couple days.

And a proposed six-day movefor a Nov. 10 launch would put liftoff of an International Space Station supplyrun on the same day as the 2008 presidential election.

"Whether we get threedays or two days, anything obviously would help at the front end of thatwindow," NASA spokesman Kyle Herring said.

The sun angle on thestation between Nov. 25 and Dec. 17 will be such that the outpost would not beable to generate enough power, or dispel enough heat, to support a shuttle.

Consequently, missionsto the station cannot be launched during that period, and NASA prefers notto launch during the Christmas or New Year's holidays. That effectively meansNov. 24 would be the last day NASA could launch a station mission in 2008.

Expect launch datedecisions when shuttle managers meet Aug. 14.

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