Thursday, July 07, 2011

NASA Evaluates Possible Lightning Strike Near STS-135 Pad

NASA Blog:

Thu, 07 Jul 2011 10:43:56 AM PDT

The space shuttle launch team is evaluating a possible lightning strike within one third of a mile from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Engineers will review data to determine if the lightning affected space shuttle Atlantis or any of the pad's ground support equipment. A continuing band of thunderstorms has prevented teams from conducting a detailed pad inspection, which must be performed before the Rotating Service Structure can be rolled back from the shuttle.

After the rollback, the teams will continue work that must be performed before fueling Atlantis' external tank early tomorrow morning. The rollback originally was planned for 2 p.m. EDT.

At this morning's briefing, Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters reported that the launch weather forecast remains unchanged, with a 30 percent chance of favorable weather for the 11:26 a.m. liftoff. The forecast is a more favorable 80 percent when the filling of the huge external fuel tank is set to begin.

At 5 a.m. this morning, the countdown entered a planned hold at the T-11 hour mark, and will resume at 7:01 p.m. tonight.

The astronauts had an early wakeup call as they continue to prepare for tomorrow's launch of Atlantis on the STS-135 mission to the International Space Station.