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Shuttle Launch Postponed Again Until Tuesday

Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach calls a halt to the Discovery launch at midday Sunday, as the second straight day of bad weather held the orbiter on the ground. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Phil Berardelli
SpaceDaily US Editor
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 03, 2006
NASA for the second straight day postponed the launch of the space shuttle Discovery on Sunday because of bad weather. Low-hanging clouds at the launch site at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, coupled with the existence of anvil-shaped thunderheads in the vicinity - which pose a lightning-strike risk to the orbiter in flight - caused controllers to scrub the launch attempt.

NASA next will try to launch Discovery at 2:38 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, July 4.

Before the launch attempt Sunday, the seven shuttle astronauts had again entered Discovery and were awaiting the "go" command from launch director Michael Leinbach.

About 12:30 p.m., however, Bruce Buckingham, NASA's launch announcer, said on the agency's television channel, "We have in fact scrubbed our launch attempt for today." The reason given was concerns about lightning.

Saturday's launch attempt was canceled within 10 minutes of its scheduled liftoff due to similar weather concerns.

If the weather cooperates Tuesday - which also is the national holiday celebrating U.S. independence - the five men and two women astronauts will fly to the International Space Station on a mission aimed at improving shuttle safety three years after the shuttle Columbia disaster.

Discovery will carry 2.5 tons of supplies to the ISS, as well as the Italian-built Leonardo science module. Two members of the crew, Mike Fossum and Piers Sellers, are scheduled to undertake at least two spacewalks.

The shuttle mission currently is scheduled for 12 days, but NASA officials said they would like to extend it by one day, so astronauts can conduct a third spacewalk to continue external station chores and provide an additional investigation of the shuttle's condition before attempting re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.

If the third launch attempt fails on July 4, Discovery's launch window continues until July 19.

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Weather Grounds Discovery For Second Straight Day
Cape Canaveral FL (AFP) Jul 02, 2006
Concerns over lightning forced NASA to call off Discovery's launch for a second straight day on Sunday, delaying just the second space shuttle flight since the 2003 Columbia tragedy by at least two more days.

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