April 29th, 2011
11:28 AM ET
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) – With the curtain closing on America’s space shuttle program, President Obama will bring his wife and two daughters to witness the 25th and final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, which appears to be a “go” for it’s scheduled 3:47pm launch.
Before takeoff, the family will tour the Orbiter Processing Facility, where the space shuttle Atlantis is being prepared for its final launch in June.
Obama will become only the second president to attend a shuttle launch. President Bill Clinton watched Discovery takeoff in October 1998.
The shuttle commander, Mark Kelly, is also the husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in January. The congresswoman is expected to watch the launch with other family members of the Endeavour crew. The first family is expected join NASA Director Charles Bolden, Jr. in the Launch Control Center.
Commander Kelly will oversee the two-week mission, during which the crew is expected to make four spacewalks and deliver supplies, spare parts and a $2 billion particle physics detector to the International Space Station.
At the time of its scheduled landing, according to NASA, Endeavour will have traveled more than 100 million miles during 25 flights and spent more than 294 days in space.
President Obama last visited the Kennedy Space Center in April 2010, where he outlined what the White House called a “bold strategy for human spaceflight,” which includes relying more on the private sector than government funding. The administration has been criticized for canceling NASA’s Constellation human spaceflight program.
“Nobody is more committed to manned space flight, to human exploration of space than I am," said Obama in April 2010. “But we’ve got to do it in a smart way, and we can’t just keep on doing the same old things that we’ve been doing and thinking that somehow is going to get us to where we want to go.”