Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weather delays start of Atlantis tanking test

Storms Tuesday have pushed back the expected start of this morning's shuttle tanking test at Kennedy Space Center to 11 a.m.

The loading of Atlantis' 15-story external tank with a half-million gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen had been scheduled to start at 7 a.m.

NASA reported three lightning strikes within a quarter-mile of launch pad 39A yesterday, but don't believe any damage was caused to Atlantis or the pad.

The pad's rotating gantry has been opened in preparation for the test, revealing Atlantis as if it were nearing launch.

Today's test will verify the condition of support beams lining the tank's mid-section, the tops of which were reinforced after some cracked on an earlier tank.

The results could take up to a week to confirm following a series of X-ray inspections of the beams.
Atlantis is targeted to launch the final shuttle mission at 11:26 a.m. July 8.

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