Launch of Space-Based Particle-Physics Experiment Delayed Until Next Year

In December, Science listed among the most exciting things to watch for this year the launch of a particle-physics experiment called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station. So perhaps it was inevitable that the launch would be delayed until next year, as NASA announced yesterday.

The $1.5 billion, 7.5-ton AMS will search for antimatter, dark matter, and other oddities coming from space. It was supposed to launch on 29 July on the 134th and last flight of NASA's space shuttle, but that date was postponed until at least November because researchers made a last-minute change in the detector's design. This time, there's a hang-up with the payload for the 133rd space shuttle flight, which will delay its launch from September to November and push the launch of AMS back to February 2011 at the earliest.