Sunday, August 23, 2009

Watch It Live: Prelaunch News Briefing On Tap

NASA's prelaunch news conference is coming up at 3:45 p.m., and you can watch it here live in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer, and be sure to refresh this page for periodic updates.

The countdown to the planned launch early Tuesday of Discovery is continuing here at Kennedy Space Center. Liftoff remains scheduled for 1:36 a.m. Tuesday.

Today technicians disconnected the umbilical used to load cryogenic reactants into the shuttle's power-producing fuel cell system.

Engineers also filled the sound suppression system that dumps water on the launch pad at liftoff to make certain the shuttle is not damaged by acoustical vibrations.

Shuttle main engine checkouts also got under way earlier this afternoon.

Participants in the news conference will include Mike Moses, shuttle launch integration manager at KSC, shuttle launch director Pete Nickolenko, shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters and Simonetta di Pippo of the European Space Agency.

The weather forecast for launch has improved to 80 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time. But forecasters say there is a 40 percent chance lightning within five miles will prohibit fuel-loading operations at 4 p.m. Monday.

A thunderstorm is sweeping through the area at this time -- just about 24 hours before tanking operations are to begin.

NASA will need to start tanking by about 6 p.m. Monday to make a launch attempt early Tuesday.

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