Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Atlantis in great shape for launch, weather permitting

Mission managers this morning gave a "go" for Atlantis to proceed toward an 11:26 a.m. Friday launch, while weather remains a concern.

Twenty-four hours into the countdown, which began at 1 p.m. Tuesday, no technical issues are being worked. 

"The vehicle is in fantastic shape," said Mike Moses, NASA's shuttle launch integration manager. "Everything's on time, on schedule, looking amazing. It's a great way to go into this countdown."

The weather outlook is not as great. The forecast today worsened slightly, to a 70 percent chance of showers, thunderstorms, clouds or lightning that could postpone the launch to Saturday or Sunday.

"It is not looking very favorable right now for launch," said Kathy Winters, the shuttle weather officer.

But Moses said missions have launched with worse odds, and the launch team only needs a hole in the clouds at the right time Friday.

"There's no problems yet, there's just weather forecasts, and weather forecasts are forecasts," said Moses. "We'll wait until we get there and see what we get."

At launch pad 39A today, cryogenic reactants are being loaded into the shuttle's power-generating fuel cell system.

The pad's rotating gantry is scheduled to be rolled back from the shuttle at 2 p.m. Thursday, weather permitting.

Managers will give a go or no-go to fuel the shuttle after a weather briefing at 1:30 a.m. Friday.

On the 135th and final shuttle mission, Atlantis and four astronauts are scheduled to fly a 12-day mission to resupply the International Space Station.

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