Friday, July 08, 2011

NASA Fueling Shuttle For Last Launch

NASA engineers are starting to load more than a half-million gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen into the external tank of shuttle Atlantis despite a gloomy forecast for launch of the nation's 135th and final shuttle flight.

The lines that carry propellant from storage vessels on the perimeter of Kennedy Space Center's launch pad 39A to the 15-story external tank are being chilled down -- thermally conditioned for the flow of supercold propellant. The propellant-loading operation is expected to take three hours to complete.

Liftoff remains set for 11:26 a.m.

However, the weather forecast remains the same. There is a 70 percent chance rain showers or thunderstorms will force NASA to scrub today's launch attempt. NASA decided to press ahead with propellant-loading operations because there still is a 30 percent chance the weather could be good enough to launch during a window that extends through 11:31 a.m.

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