Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Forecast promising for Endeavour launch

Early forecasts look good for Endeavour's 25th and final launch at 3:47 p.m. Friday, and there are no technical problems as NASA prepares to start the countdown at 2 p.m. today.

Air Force meteorologists anticipate an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions during Friday's 10-minute launch window at Kennedy Space Center.

But potentially severe thunderstorms expected to develop Thursday evening could interfere with plans to swing open the rotating gantry at launch pad 39A at 7 p.m.. That's a necessary step before shuttle fueling can begin at 6:22 a.m. Friday.

Crosswinds are the primary concern for launch. The standard limit is 15 knots, though that could be raised to 17 knots based on conditions observed by an astronaut flying weather reconnaissance.

Check out the official Air Force forecast here. The outlook remains favorable throughout the weekend if necessary, with a 70 percent chance of good weather Saturday and 80 percent Sunday.

Endeavour's crew of six astronauts, led by Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, are due to fly into KSC at 12:15 p.m. today. Launch teams will be called to their stations at 1:30 p.m. today for the start of the countdown.

The shuttle is set to fly a two-week mission to deliver spare parts and a $2 billion particle physics detector to the International Space Station. The mission could be extended up to two days, a decision that will be made after launch.

Endeavour's final return to KSC is currently planned at 9:29 a.m. May 13.

IMAGE: Diagram showing the configuration of payload in Endeavour's cargo bay at launch pad 39A. Source: NASA


Deen said...

I still cant believe that dude is leaving his wife here. Guess we know where is priorities lie? lol


Mark Lopa said...

Well, there is an extra seat available, but she decided to wait this one out.