Today’s scheduled final Space Shuttle launch is hanging in the balance amid an uncertain meteorological outlook.
The launch of Atlantis is due to take place at 11.26 Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) but “weather remains at a 30% chance of favourable weather for liftoff” at that time, according to NASA’s latest communiqué.
But fuelling of Atlantis’s external fuel tank with more than 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen commenced on schedule at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 02.01 EDT, the agency confirms.
“The launch team will closely monitor the weather throughout the process,” says NASA. “Teams are not working any issues that would delay the launch.”
Weather permitting, Atlantis is to embark on a 12-day mission to the International Space Station as the final flight of the USA’s 30-year Space Shuttle programme. The mission’s codename is STS-135.
Atlantis will carry a crew of four and the Raffaello multipurpose logistics module containing supplies and spare parts for the space station.
The STS-135 astronauts are commander Chris Ferguson, pilot Doug Hurley and mission specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim.
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