Friday, May 08, 2009

Rain In Spain Could Ground Shuttle Atlantis

NASA expects good weather at Kennedy Space Center for the planned launch Monday of Atlantis but rain in Spain could keep the shuttle bolted to its seaside launch pad.

Seven astronauts aim to launch at 2:01 p.m. Monday on NASA's fifth and final Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. Kathy Winters, a shuttle weather officer with the Air Force's 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron, said there is an 80 percent chance that conditions on Florida's Space Coast will be acceptable for an on-time liftoff.

But there is a chance of rain showers within 20 nautical miles of an emergency landing site at Moron, Spain, and NASA launch commit criteria call for at least one Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) site to be available.

NASA normally staffs two other sites -- Zaragosa in Spain and Istres in France -- but Atlantis is flying a due east trajectory to rendezvous with the Hubble observatory and neither of the other sites could be reached in the event of an emergency as a result.

So NASA will be keeping close tabs on the weather at Moron; astronaut George Zamka will be flying weather reconnaissance around the area and reporting real time to NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston.

Check out the detailed weather forecast HERE.

It wouldn't be the first time weather overseas has stopped a shuttle launch despite Chamber-Of-Commerce conditions in Florida. Challenger scrubbed once before its 10th and final flight due to adverse conditions at a TAL site, and a handful of other missions have been delayed due to weather overseas.

NASA and contractor engineers, meanwhile, will be called to their stations in the storied Launch Control Center here at Kennedy Space Center at 3:30 p.m. today, and the launch countdown will pick up at 4 p.m.

Atlantis mission commander Scott Altman and his crew are scheduled to arrive at KSC's Shuttle Landing Facility at 5 p.m. today. You can watch live coverage here in The Flame Trench by clicking on the NASA TV box on the righthand side of the page. Doing so will launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage of the crew arrival. Be sure to refresh this page, too, for periodic updates.


Anonymous said...


Those Conservatives really know how to MILK a Glorified Social Welfare Program for all it's worth.

They probably will get us Tax Payers to pay their salarys for an extra year and feel like they are doing us a favor.

It's so ironic that the Republicans say they aren't socialist and then milk a govt program the way they have the Space Shuttle Program..

Anonymous said...

It's all Obama's fault!

Anonymous said...

At least the new rocket, with its capsule on top, won't have these million and one different stupid delays. These last nine shuttle missions can't end soon enough.

Anonymous said...

Love ignorant people, you were not smart enough to work for the space program?...then go into politics you will fit right in.