Shuttle Endeavour’s Final Launch Date Set

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has announced that the final mission of the space shuttle Endeavour is set to begin late next week.NASA said Tuesday Endeavour will be launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 29. Earlier this month, the space agency delayed Endeavour’s launch to avoid a scheduling conflict with a Russian supply capsule at the International Space Station .

U.S. astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of critically wounded U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is the commander of Endeavour’s two-week long mission to the ISS.The shuttle is expected to deliver a new hi-tech particle detector called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. The spectrometer will search for anti-matter, dark matter and dark energy and help scientists learn about the origins of the universe.NASA says it will be the 134th shuttle mission, and Endeavour’s 25th and final flight.NASA is ending the 30-year space shuttle program this year to concentrate on manned spaceflight beyond the Earth’s low orbit.The very last U.S. space shuttle flight — Atlantis’ mission to the space station — is scheduled for June.On Monday, NASA awarded nearly $270 million in funding to four commercial companies to advance the development and design of commercial spacecraft. Boeing received $92.3 million and is among several companies vying to build a craft that could transport astronauts and cargo to the ISS.Until a commercial craft is ready, American astronauts will travel to space on Russian capsules. – Voanews