Saturday, July 11, 2009

SCRUB: Endeavour Launch Delayed 24 hours

NASA's shuttle mission management team called a twenty-four hour extended hold, thus delaying Endeavour's planned launch tonight until Sunday due to seven lightning strikes within the .3 nautical mile radius of Launch Pad 39-A.

Technicians will evaluate the areas where the strikes occurred at midday today to determine what damage they caused.

The solid rocket boosters are scheduled to ignite on Sunday evening at 7:13:55 pm EDT.

In the above NASA-TV image recorded late afternoon on July 10th, shows one of a dozen lightning strikes which either hit the pad or the perimeter area. No part of the space shuttle was hit, however the ground support electronic systems took a 110-volt power surge.

"We've seen nothing so far that indicates anything was actually affected by the lightning strikes," stated Shuttle Mission Manager Mike Moses late this morning. "I fully expect this to be a positive story; but we have a lot of equipment that has to be checked and that's what takes time."

The 24 hour delay has given NASA a better weather forecast at launch time. Sunday evening's launch attempt is now 60% forecast "Go".

Endeavour must launch by Tuesday or stand down until late July due to the Russian launch of a Progress 34P cargo craft of supplies to the space station. Endeavour's mission calls for a 16-day mission the the station, including five days of spacewalks. In order to accomplish all flight objectives, Endeavour will have either Sunday and Monday, or Sunday and Tuesday as launch days, based on the lightning results late today.

Of note, if Endeavour does launch on Sunday, it will take place only 3 1/2 days from the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, America's first mission to land on the moon.

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