NASA Changes Shuttle Dates

Space shuttle program managers today modified an official "change request" that, if approved, will move up the next two shuttle launchings by three days each, not six as initially requested.

As originally written, the CR would have moved launch of STS-125, a long-awaited mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope, from Oct. 8 to Oct. 2. The flight after that, STS-126, would have moved from Nov. 10 to Nov. 4 - election day in the United States.

But crew training, payload processing and work to ready external tanks for flight prompted managers today to request Oct. 5 for launch of the Hubble servicing mission and Nov. 7 for the subsequent space station assembly flight. A decision on whether to actually approve those target dates is expected Aug. 14.

Assuming the revised target dates are selected, the shuttle Atlantis would take off on the Hubble servicing mission at 3:02:18 a.m. EDT on Oct. 5. The telescope would be grappled around 1:28 a.m. on Oct. 7 and the first of five back-to-back spacewalks to service and upgrade the observatory would begin later that day at 8:17 p.m. If all goes well, Hubble would be released from the shuttle around 9:13 p.m. on Oct. 12 and Atlantis would land back at the Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 16 at 12:04 a.m.

Launch of shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-126 would occur around 10:39 p.m. on Nov. 7 followed by docking with the international space station around 8:11 p.m. on Nov. 9. Four spacewalks are planned - Nov. 11, 13, 15 and 17 - each one beginning around 4:29 p.m. Landing back at the Florida spaceport would be targeted for around 5:02 p.m. on Nov. 22.

Detailed flight plans and other updates will be posted after official launch targets are determined Aug. 14.

BY WILLIAM HARWOOD

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