Discovery Still Go for Launch

Shuttle set to fly at 3:51 p.m. local time

2 min read

Cape Canaveral, Fla., 12 July 2005--Almost obscured in the haze, the space shuttle Discovery sits on its launchpad in the stifling heat and humidity of the Florida summer, but most eyes are on the skies at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, as the countdown continues for a Wednesday launch. Hurricane season has started early and with a vengeance. Florida is still picking up after hurricane Dennis swept through the area last weekend and another hurricane--Emily--is already brewing in the Atlantic. NASA's forecasters, however, are cautiously optimistic, putting the chances that the weather will be okay for launch at 60 percent.

If Discovery can't launch tomorrow at its appointed time--3:51 p.m. Eastern Savings Time (7:51 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time)--it will have to wait almost 24 hours for another attempt on Thursday. The practicalities of orbital mechanics mean that the shuttle must launch within a few minutes of its launch time or it will be unable to rendezvous with its destination, the International Space Station (ISS). If the launch can't go ahead on Thursday, KSC will stand down for a day to give the launch crews a break, and try again on Saturday.

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