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Weather may delay Sunita's space launch
December 07, 2006 19:18 IST
The weather is a worry but its all systems go for the Space Shuttle Discovery launch at 9.35 pm EST on Thursday (8.05 am IST), NASA reported Thursday morning.
NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding announced that no technical issues should affect the planned launch, during a briefing at the Kennedy Space Center.
"Discovery and her crew are set to embark on one of the most complicated missions ever performed, and I'm happy to say our vehicle is ready," Spaulding said.
Asked about the issues raised Tuesday evening regarding the mobile launcher platform power surge and adhesive on a reusable solid rocket motor, Spaulding replied, "We expect all issues to be cleared in time."
Kathy Winters, shuttle weather officer, said weather remains a major concern.
"We are expecting a frontal system to come into the area, and that is going to bring in a lot of cloud cover," Winters said. "We did increase our probability of weather prohibiting a [Kennedy] launch to 60 per cent."
The forecast indicates the possibility of isolated light rain and low clouds in the area at launch time. Weather is also a concern at a contingency landing site in Istres, France. Tail winds there may increase and pose an issue as well.
In the case of a 24-hour delay, the forecast isn't much better: there's a chance the winds at the launch pad or Shuttle Landing Facility could exceed limits, bringing the chance of weather prohibiting launch to 70 percent. A 48-hour delay would leave the launch team with a 60 percent chance of weather preventing liftoff.
"Weather starts getting more promising as we get into Sunday or Monday evening, but Tuesday looks the best right now," Winters concluded.
The STS-116 mission is the 33rd for Discovery and the 117th space shuttle flight. During the 12-day mission, the crew, which includes astronaut of Indian origin Sunita Williams, will continue construction on the International Space Station, rewiring the orbiting laboratory and adding a segment to its integrated truss structure.