Shuttle Crew Laughs Its Way to Another Attempt at Liftoff

Reuters

Frustrated by problems that have delayed their space shuttle mission, astronauts Tuesday turned to jokes and disguises, hoping that Friday's scheduled Endeavour launch succeeds.

Flight engineer Dan Bursch donned a Groucho Marx nose and glasses as he arrived in Florida. He told reporters that the rest of the crew had asked him to fly in disguise to ensure the shuttle gets off the ground this time.

The mission's first launch, set for Aug. 18, was aborted only 1.9 seconds before liftoff because of an engine problem.

"Another recommendation somebody made was, click my heels three times and say, 'There's no place like space,' " said Bursch, the only astronaut who has experienced two aborted launches. He was also aboard Endeavour in August, 1993, when the shuttle was only able to take off after four tries.

NASA started a routine countdown Tuesday, a few hours after a jet carrying Bursch and his five crew mates landed at Kennedy.

Once in Earth orbit, the six astronauts will tend a pair of remote-controlled radars in the shuttle cargo bay and conduct a variety of small science experiments for 10 days.

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