Sunday, February 07, 2010

Weather Delays Sunday launch until Monday

Low clouds along America's Space Coast forced the launch team to scrub a Super Sunday launch of the space shuttle Endeavour and the launch team will try again on Monday.

NASA went into a 24-hour scrub turn around which will now retarget Endeavour's launch for Monday morning at 4:14:07 am EST, from launch pad 39-A here at the Kennedy Space Center.

"We tried really, really hard to work the weather. It was just too dynamic. We got to feeling good there at one point and then it filled back in and we just were not comfortable launching a space shuttle tonight," Launch Director Mike Leinbach told Endeavour's crew of the scrub ten minutes prior to the planned launch time.

The weather forecast is 60% favorable for a launch try tomorrow.

Just south of Endeavour's launch pad sits a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 which was scheduled to launch a NASA satellite on Tuesday. That launch of the Solar Dynamics Observatory has also been delayed one day and will fly Wednesday at 10:26 am.

One hour after the scrub, the six-member crew of Endeavour began to leave the shuttle's cockpit.

Led by commander George Zamka, Endeavour's 24th flight crew includes pilot Terry Virts, and mission specialists Kay Hire, Steven Robinson, Nicholas Patrick, and Robert Behnken.

Monday's early morning launch will also be the final planned night launch of a space shuttle in the program's history. The first night launch of a shuttle was Challenger's third flight in August 1983.

Once on orbit, Endeavour's crew will deliver the final American modules to the International Space Station -- the Italian-built Tranquility module and a 360-degree seven window cupola compartment.

Following an on-time launch, Endeavour will fly into an orbit lower than that of station to shorten the time it takes to catch-up with the orbital complex.

Once the orbiter nears the station, it will perform a back flip to allow the station's crew to photograph it's underside to check for any tile (or the thermal protection system) damage. On most launches ice and foam debris have struck the belly of the shuttle. A small 1/4-inch size of debris traveling at over 1000 mph can cause a serious dent or gouge on the ships surface.

Once the orbiter completes the back flip, Endeavour will fly in -- payload bay in the direction of travel -- for a docking to the space station. Docking is now planned for Wednesday morning at 12:53 am EST. will have complete LIVE video coverage of the launch beginning at 11PM EST tonight. Stay tune throughout the mission for our updates and coverage. Follow our updates on your mobile device via Twitter: @spacelaunchnews.

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