Saturday, July 11, 2009

Launch Decision To Come Sunday Morning

Launch Decision To Come Sunday Morning: "

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER -- Engineering analysis teams are expected to work through Saturday night to analyze the data from July 10 lightning strikes that forced a launch scrub of the space shuttle Endeavour.

The protective catenary wires on the launch pad took seven lightning strikes during an electrical storm Friday afternoon.

'There is no indication that there is any damage,' said NASA spokesman Allard Beutel. 'Mission management is being extra cautious.'

Managers will meet at 8 a.m. EDT Sunday to review the data from the overnight analysis, Beutel said. The decision will be made then whether to scrub or continue with the planned launch at 7:13 p.m. EDT. The meeting will roll into the standard meeting on whether to fill the external tank with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

A final decision whether to proceed with the launch, based on the engineering analysis and favorable weather conditions for tanking, will be made by about 9:30 a.m. EDT.

Beutel noted that mission management decided to scrub Saturday's launch to give engineering teams more time to analyze the data from the seven lightning strikes.

'There was not enough time between the strikes and tanking today to analyze all the data,' he said.

In September 2006, STS-115 was delayed by several days by a single large lightning strike, which also resulted in a voltage surge past the 100 volt threshold engineers think acceptable. 'We had different analytical tools then, so it took longer to determine if it was safe to proceed,' Beutel said.

Conditions are better a launch Sunday, with a 60% chance of the weather being favorable compared with 40% for today's scrubbed launch.

NASA can go as late as Tuesday with the launch before running into a conflict at the International Space Station with a planned Russian launch of a Progress resupply capsule. That launch could be delayed to give Endeavour more time to complete its mission, but no formal discussions have yet occurred between NASA and Russian officials. That will happen if Endeavour fails to launch by Monday, Beutel said.'



(Via On Space.)

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