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Weather good for Friday shuttle launch: NASA

by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Nov 13, 2008
Weather conditions have improved for Friday's launch of the space shuttle Endeavour and its seven astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station, NASA meteorologists said Thursday.

Forecasters at the US space agency give a 70 percent chance of favorable conditions for the evening launch, up from 60 percent given a day earlier.

The 27th shuttle flight to the orbiting space station and the fourth and final shuttle mission for 2008 is scheduled for liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 7:55 pm Friday (0055 GMT Saturday).

If the launch has to be delayed an additional 24 hours, for any reason, there would be only a 30 percent chance for favorable weather conditions, Cape Canaveral meteorologist Kathy Winters told reporters.

"Endeavour is ready, the crew is ready and the MMT (mission management team) gives a go for proceeding today," pre-launch preparation manager LeRoy Cain told a press conference on Wednesday.

The countdown for the 15-day mission began Tuesday at 9:30 pm (0230 GMT Wednesday).

The Endeavour's mission, launching nearly 10 years to the day since a shuttle crew first began constructing the International Space Station on November 20, 1998, will repair the station's power-generating solar arrays and expand its living quarters to accommodate bigger crews.

"This mission is all about home improvement," shuttle commander Chris Ferguson, 47, said Tuesday. "Home improvement inside and outside the station."

The shuttle's massive external tank will begin taking in some two million liters (530,000 gallons) of mostly super-cooled, liquid hydrogen Friday at 10:30 am (1530 GMT), launch director Mike Leinback said.

The three-hour tanking operation will be the final pre-launch procedure.

"Right now everything is going on track for (shuttle mission) STS-126 for Endeavour and looking good for a Friday night liftoff," Leinback said.

If the mission should fail to launch by November 25, it would have to be postponed until January, Cain said.

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Shuttle's Fuel Cell Loading And Practice Landings Scheduled
Cape Canaveral FL (SPX) Nov 13, 2008
Launch controllers will load oxygen and hydrogen into the fuel cells aboard space shuttle Endeavour this evening as the countdown to the launch of STS-126 moves ahead smoothly. The fuel cells convert the chemicals into electricity while Endeavour is in space.







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