Thu, Sep 04, 2008
Launch Scheduled For Early October
Buoyed by weather forecasts that show Florida's Space Coast
presently out-of-danger from several offshore storms, on Thursday
NASA moved the space shuttle Atlantis to the launch pad, in
anticipation of its October launch on the STS-125 mission to
service the Hubble Space Telescope.
Atlantis arrived at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A at
around 1600 EDT, six hours after the shuttle rolled out of the
Vehicle Assembly Building. Mission managers cleared the move after
an early-morning meeting on the status of Tropical Storm Hanna,
that determined the storm would remain far enough offshore and
instead strike the Carolina coast.
For the moment, it also appears Kennedy will be spared the brunt
of Hurricane Ike, which strengthened to a Category 4 storm Thursday
afternoon and is currently projected to hit South Florida early
next week. NASA is also keeping an eye on another developing storm,
Tropical Storm Josephine.
Barring any more weather-related delays -- a phenomenon Atlantis
seems to attract, as ANN has reported
here -- NASA projects an October 8 launch date
for the shuttle and its seven-member crew, who will fly the
last-ever servicing mission to the orbital observatory.
However, that date may be moved off a couple days due to delays
stemming from earlier Tropical Storm Fay, as well as a minor
technical glitch. NASA must also ready the shuttle Endeavour, which
will serve as an emergency "lifeboat" to rescue the Atlantis crew
should their orbiter suffers irreparable damage during launch.
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