Shuttle launch delay saddens visitors

April 30, 2011 8:44:49 PM PDT
Space shuttle Endeavour's final mission is on hold while technicians work to smooth out a problem that popped up and delayed the scheduled Friday launch. They're now shooting for a launch on Monday. NASA opened up Endeavour and is troubleshooting the problem, but it's too early to say yet if they will be able to fly Monday or not.

"One of the kids said the feeling they had is as if the puppy got lost. So, uh, we were frustrated. We have to go back," Rick Anton of Minneapolis said.

On a day when so many left Florida, saddened by a scrub, some are deciding whether to stick it out. We found a teacher from the University of Houston. Even though she is friends with ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori, she just can't stay to see him go.

"All of a sudden, it's just a big letdown. There's a lot of build-up to it ahead of time," Sandra Celli Harris said.

Spacecoast Tourism officials say many will leave, but they still expect half a million people if Endeavour launches Monday, and that is good for business.

"The money is good. More money spent in town, indeed," waiter Scott Morrow said.

There was not a cloud in the sky Saturday, but Endeavor sat poised on the launch pad like the astronauts yesterday -- all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Even though President Barack Obama was here, and even though wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was here, NASA erred on the side of caution. It is proof, those who have flown before say, that safety is top priority.

"What's important is that we are doing spaceflight safely. No one will ask if we launched this week or next week once we accomplish the mission," ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel said.

NASA scheduled a news conference for Sunday morning, at which more about launch plans should be revealed.

There is still no word from Giffords' office as to whether she'll stay in Florida for a Monday launch attempt.

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