Thursday, February 24, 2011

Shuttle Fuel-Loading Under Way At KSC

NASA engineers have started loading more than a half-million gallons of supercold propellant and forecasters say there is a 90 percent chance conditions will be acceptable for an on-time liftoff at 4:50 p.m.

Mission managers met at 7 a.m. and gave a green light for the external tank propellant-loading operation, which began at 7:25 a.m. and should take about three hours to complete.

The launch team is not working any technical problems that would prevent a launch today.

Mission commander Steve Lindsey and his crew will head out to the launch pad about 1 p.m. today. The crew includes pilot Eric Boe and four mission specialists: Michael Barratt, Stephen Bowen, Al Drew and Nicole Stott.

Bowen replaced Tim Kopra, who was injured in a mid-January bicycle accident. Bowen, who flew on STS-132 last May, will be the first astronaut to fly on consecutive shuttle missions.

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