November 11, 2008

KSC Prepares For Countdown, Weather Permitting

NASA's launch and mission officials and workers preparing space shuttle Endeavour are moving methodically toward a liftoff on schedule Friday at 7:55 p.m. EST. There are no technical issues of concern, but the weather needs to cooperate.

The astronauts who will fly the mission are due to arrive at NASA's Kennedy Space Center this afternoon, and the countdown will begin at 10 p.m. tonight.

Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters gave the shuttle a 60 percent chance of meeting launch weather criteria for Friday's attempt. That falls to 40 percent chance of acceptable conditions on Saturday, but back up to a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions on Sunday.

A weather front that could produce thick clouds is expected to enter the region on Friday or Saturday, Winters said. Under certain conditions, the clouds can be thick enough to prompt lightning concerns.

NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding said Endeavour is ready for its flight to the International Space Station. Endeavour and its crew of seven astronauts will deliver about seven tons of new equipment and supplies, including a new kitchen and crew facilities for enlarging the station's resident capacity.

"Our systems are in great shape and all of us are prepared to pick up the countdown tonight," Spaulding said.


Image 1: Astronaut Donald Pettit will return to the International Space Station during STS-126. He spent almost six months living onboard the station as a member of the Expedition 6 crew. (NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Image 2: Sitting atop its mobile launcher platform, Space Shuttle Endeavour welcomes the dawn after arriving on Launch Pad 39B. The shuttle includes the while solid rocket boosters and orange external fuel tank. (NASA)


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