Monday, July 13, 2009

SCRUB: Weather Delays Endeavour to Wednesday

Traditional summer storms along the central Florida Space Coast forced NASA to cancel tonight's launch of the space shuttle Endeavour - the second such delay in two days.

Just as the launch team here at the Kennedy Space Center did on Sunday, the ran the countdown down until the nine minute point and held for forty minutes. However, the weather trend turned to worse as NASA got to about ten minutes from Endeavour's scheduled launch time of 6:51 pm.

Launch Director Pete Nickolenko called Endeavour's commander Mark Polansky with the news: "Well Roman, again, the vehicle and our teams were ready, but the weather's just bitten us again with lightning within 20 nautical miles in violation of our launch weather. So for that, we're going to have to declare a scrub again for the day today. We'll talk and convene and decide our forward path, whether it's tomorrow or Wednesday."

Anvil clouds and lightning were observed both by air and by radar on the ground causing the space agency to call a scrub for the day.

"Technically, we've been really clean the last two days with our vehicle. It's just been the weather scenario that got us," stated Launch Integration Manager Mike Moses following tonight's cancellation.

NASA will do it all over again on Wednesday and look to break Endeavour free of her launch pad with an updated launch time of 6:03:10 pm EDT. Weather is forecast at 60% Go at launch time.

If Endeavour does launch on Wednesday evening, it will come just 15 hours prior to the 40th anniversary minute mark of humanity's first lunar landing mission, Apollo 11.

Led by veteran commander Polansky, Endeavour's crew includes pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists David A. Wolf, Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Timothy Kopra and Julie Payette (Canadian Space Agency).

Overnight tonight, technicians here at Kennedy will move the rotating service structure back around the space shuttle stack to make a few repairs. One is the Tyvek cover, a white cover which lays across and keeps rain out of the orbiter's open thrusters thus preventing contamination inside the thruster. A small vernier thruster on the space craft's port side closest to the nose cap is missing its cover.

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