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The shuttle Endeavour undergoes processing in February at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, in preparation for what is shaping up as the space shuttle fleet's final mission.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The space shuttle's last big-time science experiment, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, has delayed the end of the shuttle era from mid-September to at least mid-November.
The $1.5 billion particle detector is to be mounted on the station for an extended series of physics experiments, including a search for the universe's mysterious dark matter. The spectrometer may also help scientists gain new insights into the nature of antimatter and the origins of cosmic rays.
The upcoming flight of the shuttle Atlantis remains on schedule for launch no earlier than May 14. But the July flight of the shuttle Endeavour carrying the spectrometer will now leapfrog the shuttle Discovery's launch, currently set for Sept. 16. Endeavour's mission will now be launched no earlier than mid-November, NASA says.
Obama's budget request for NASA for the year beginning Oct. 1, which still must be approved by Congress, includes $600 million to keep the program going until the end of the year if necessary to accommodate technical or weather-related delays.