Monday, November 16, 2009

Live At KSC: Shuttle Being Fueled For Launch

Live: Refresh this page for the latest still images from live video feeds at Kennedy Space Center.

Shuttle Atlantis is being fueled for flight at Kennedy Space Center this morning as NASA gears up for a planned launch this afternoon of Atlantis and six astronauts on an International Space Station outfitting mission.

The 18-story spaceship and its crew are slated to blast off from Launch Complex 39A at 2:28 p.m., the middle of a 10-minute opportunity to put the shuttle on course for a ground-up rendezvous and docking at the station just before noon Wednesday.

The weather forecast has gotten a bit worse. Air Force meteorologists say there is a 70 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for launch. That's down from 90 percent on Sunday. The prime concern remains the chance of low-level clouds in the area at liftoff time. Forecasters are concerned that a layer of scattered clouds around 3,000 feet could go broken.

NASA launch rules call for ceilings of at least 6,000 feet for two reasons: the mission commander must be able to see the shuttle runway in the event of an emergency landing, and range safety officers must be able to see the vehicle in the crucial early minutes of flight.

Here is the Official Forecast from the Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron.

Engineers at the top of the hour started loading more than 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the external tank of shuttle Atlantis. The fuel-loading operation is expected to take about three hours to complete.

Atlantis will carry a load of about 27,000 pounds of supplies and large spare parts to the International Space Station. NASA's 129th shuttle mission is the 31st to the station and the 31st for Atlantis.

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