Discovery launch now on rain delay

Washington DC
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This story is sourced from Flight International
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This time, NASA can blame it on the rain.

The launch of space shuttle Discovery has been delayed yet again, this time because of foul weather in southern Florida. NASA officials are now predicting a launch time of 15:04 EDT on 5 November. The shuttle team will meet at 5:00 that day to assess the weather, NASA says, before making a decision.

The US space agency's weather team is calling for a 60 percent chance of acceptable launch conditions for Friday, with no rain, though the predicted high winds could still thwart the attempt. Should Friday's launch fall through, chances for sending Discovery on its way for its final flight are narrowing. Saturday forecast is also calling for wind. The launch window closes Sunday, NASA says, when the angle of the sun in relation to the International Space Station changes in a way that would prevent it from being able to power both the station itself and the docked shuttle. The flight would be delayed until December if Discovery does not launch before the window closes.

The flight, originally planned for 1 November, was first delayed to repair leaking helium and nitrogen gas lines on the shuttle's orbital manoeuvring system pod, which took longer than expected. The pod controls the shuttle's orbital injection and modifies its orbit. Then, electrical problems during a routine engine power-up and check-out caused the rescheduled 3 November launch to be pushed back another 24 hours.