The final launch of NASA's space shuttle Endeavor has been delayed at least 72 hours, much to the disappointment of the estimated 750,000 people who had swarmed into the area near Kennedy Space Center with their folding chairs and coolers to witness the important event.
The shuttle had been scheduled to lift off at 3:47 p.m. But about three hours before, NASA announced it would be postponed due to a problem with heaters in an auxiliary power unit. (Check NASA Tweet Up for further updates.)
Thankfully, there is a silver lining to this anticlimactic event, and it has everything to do with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords ...
The Arizona Congresswoman was able to attend the lead-up to the almost launch Friday, thereby marking a milestone in her recovery after being shot in the head during a January shooting rampage in Tucson. She was at the launch in the first place, of course, because her husband, Mark Kelly, is the Endeavour’s commander.
In fact, this week has brought nothing but good news with respect to her recovery. Here's her doctor, Dr. Gerard Francisco, reporting on her progress.
Her attending the launch is a goal that we were working toward, and we have achieved that end ... She has made remarkable progress in her rehabilitation, and we saw no reason why she could not travel safely to Florida.
Then, on Wednesday, she was seen for the first time publicly since the shooting when she boarded a small NASA plane from Texas to Florida, walking slowly up the steps on her own. As for how she's holding up in Florida, her brother-in-law astronaut, Scott Kelly, had this to say:
She is very excited to not only be here ... but to also be out of the hospital ... I can't think of the exact words but it's very important to her ... she is very excited about it.
There's no word as to whether Giffords will remain in Florida until the next launch attempt. In the meantime, sure, the crowd in Orlando is let down by the delay. But when it's coinciding with good news about Giffords and her recovery, it's difficult to stay disappointed for too long.
Image via NASA Goddard Photo and Video/Flickr