NASA Scrubs Shuttle Launch
MICHELE NORRIS, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
A heating system failure forced NASA to call off the launch of Space Shuttle Endeavour this afternoon. The agency says the problem won't be fixed before Monday at the earliest. That leaves Florida's Atlantic coast filled with hundreds of thousands of disappointed space fans, among them President Obama and his family, as well as 150 tweeters who were invited as NASA's special guests.
Judith Smelser of member station WMFE reports from NASA's Tweetup.
JUDITH SMELSER: They hunched over computers on tables inside a fancy white tent, like one you'd see at a nice outdoor wedding. The lucky tweeters had entered a NASA lottery and won front-row seats to the next-to-last shuttle launch ever.
Mr. JOSE LOPEZ: I am here to watch a shuttle go up, although that shuttle is not going up.
SMELSER: Jose Lopez came to the Tweetup from New Haven, Connecticut. He can't wait around for the next launch attempt. He has to go back tomorrow.
Mr. LOPEZ: I am torn apart about it. I mean, it's - I'm trying to keep my spirits up, you know? We are in sunny Florida, you know, so there are a couple of other things that I could do, but nothing is close to watching a space shuttle go up, nothing at all is close to that.
SMELSER: Karen Lopez, no relation to Jose, traveled from Toronto. She says the whole Twitter gang had gone out to watch Endeavour's crew pass by on its way to the launchpad, and that's when they knew something was wrong.
Ms. KAREN LOPEZ: I think the hardest part was how we really realized that - was watching the astronaut bus make a left turn, turn around and go back. That was so poignant.
SMELSER: She's one of several tweeters who came from outside the U.S.
Mr. TIM BENNETT: My name is Tim Bennett. I'm from Sydney, Australia.
SMELSER: He understands NASA's decision. After all, human lives were at risk. But still...
Mr. BENNETT: It makes it really hard to watch them on a personal level when you lose the chance to see some things, but hey, it's for the greater good.
SMELSER: Tim doesn't have to be back in Australia for another week. So he's one of the lucky ones who may still get to see Endeavour's last launch.
For NPR News, I'm Judith Smelser at the Kennedy Space Center.
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