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New Endeavour liftoff date: no earlier than May 16

Space shuttle Endeavor, the next-to-last shuttle in NASA's dwindling fleet, was scheduled to depart on its final mission on April 29, but that has been pushed back to at least May 16.

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Space Shuttle Endeavour is seen at Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 10. The Endeavour, originally scheduled for liftoff to the International Space Station on April 29, will launch no earlier than Monday, May 16, according to NASA.

Chris O'Meara/AP

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So far, two of the three space shuttles in NASA's dwindling fleet have resisted going quietly, as the shuttle program winds down.

The final launch of Discovery, which completed its last mission March 9, was delayed for months as technicians solved problems with the orbiter's external fuel tank.

Now Endeavour, originally scheduled for liftoff to the International Space Station on April 29, is dragging its 86-ton tail. Mission managers announced today that the orbiter's final mission will launch no earlier than May 16.

Endeavour's six-member crew is commanded by astronaut Mark Kelly, whose wife, US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and seriously wounded in January during a meet-and-greet session with constituents near Tucson.

Her remarkable recovery prompted physicians to allow her to attend the scheduled April 29 launch. She reportedly will return for the launch when mission managers finally settle on a date.

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