Thursday, March 03, 2011

Mini-Shuttle Set For Friday Launch Attempt

Final preparations are under way today for the planned launch Friday of an Atlas V rocket and a military mini-shuttle, but windy weather could keep the pilotless spacecraft grounded.

The United Launch Alliance rocket and its payload -- the U.S. Air Force's second X-37B spacecraft -- are schedule to blast off from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station sometime after a 3:39 p.m. window opening on Friday. The exact launch time will be released by the Air Force on Friday.

The weather forecast, however, calls for a 70 percent chance that gusty ground winds and/or thick, electrically charged clouds will force a launch delay. The weather for an attempt on Saturday improves slight -- there is only a 60 percent chance of a weather delay that day. But on Sunday, the percentage chance of a delay returns to 70 percent.

Check out the Official Forecast from the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing Weather Squadron.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the Air Force photo of the X-37B spacecraft, also known as Orbital Test Vehicle-2, or OTV-2, as it was being encapsulated at the Astrotech spacecraft processing facility in south Titusville.

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