Thursday, November 13, 2008

1115a 11/13 Update: Countdown on track; weather improves to 70 percent 'go'

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CBS NEWS STS-126 STATUS REPORT: 08
Posted: 11:15 AM, 11/13/08

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst

Changes and additions:

   SR-06 (11/11/08): Shuttle countdown on tap; weather 60 percent 'go' for Friday launch
   SR-07 (11/12/08): Countdown underway; forecast still 60 percent 'go' for Friday launch
   SR-08 (11/13/08): Countdown on track; weather improves to 70 percent 'go' for Friday launch

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11:15 AM, 11/13/08, Update: Countdown on track; weather improves to 70 percent 'go'

The shuttle Endeavour's countdown is ticking smoothly toward launch Friday night on a four-spacewalk space station assembly mission. There are no technical problems of any significance at pad 39A and forecasters are predicting slightly better weather, calling for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions.

"All of our systems are in good shape, the countdown work is on schedule, I have no issues to report," NASA Test Director Charlene Blackwell-Thompson told reporters today. "Endeavour is ready to go. And we're really excited to share our version of a sunrise with you tomorrow night."

Liftoff is targeted for 7:55:34 p.m., roughly the moment Earth's rotation carries the launch pad into the plane of the international space station's orbit.

Kathy Winters, the shuttle weather officer at the Kennedy Space Center, said a frontal system approaching Florida from the west is not moving quite as fast as initially expected. It is now expected to move through the area late Saturday, bringing heavy clouds and rain. Isolated showers and cumulus clouds are expected Friday, as the front approaches.

"That's our primary concern for launch, isolated showers and cumulus clouds in the area," Winters said. "The front will move through the area on Saturday, late afternoon to the evening time period. So with that, we're in a pre-frontal condition before launch, which makes us have a warm, moist atmosphere and that causes us concern for these showers and cumulus clouds."

Based on the latest computer models, "we're a little bit more optimistic for Friday evening, mainly because we're more confident in the frontal passage. Still, our primary concerns are the showers within 20 nautical miles and also cumulus clouds within 10 nautical miles of the launch pad. So we have a 30 percent chance of KSC weather prohibiting the launch."

The forecast worsens to 70 percent no-go Saturday and improves to 80 percent favorable for Sunday.

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Quick-Launch Web Links:

CBS News STS-126 Status Reports:
http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/current.html

CBS News STS-126 Quick-Look Page:
http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/currentglance.html

NASA ISS Expeditions Page:
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/index.html

NASA Shuttle Web: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/index.html
NASA Station Web: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/index.html
Spaceflight Now: http://spaceflightnow.com/index.html
GoogleSatTrack: http://www.lizard-tail.com/isana/tracking/

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