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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Space Shuttle Discovery is Ready; Weather Remains a Concern

The countdown to launch of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-120 mission is proceeding smoothly at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Test Director Steve Payne announced at this morning's countdown status briefing.

"At this point in the count, we're on schedule, our systems are all good and we're in great shape," Payne said, adding that the launch team is not tracking any technical issues.

Image Above: Space shuttle Discovery stands at Launch Pad 39A, where it is undergoing final preparations for launch on the STS-120 mission. The shuttle is protected by the pad's rotating service structure. Image credit: NASA TV

However, the weather forecast for Tuesday continues to pose a threat to NASA's launch plans. Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters reported that the seabreeze could begin developing by the 11:38 a.m. EDT launch time. There is a 60-percent chance that cumulus clouds, showers and a low cloud ceiling could keep Discovery grounded.

Because launch times are earlier each day, the forecast improves slightly for Wednesday and Thursday, with a 40-percent probability of weather prohibiting liftoff.

Discovery's crew of seven astronauts arrived in Florida on Friday and have been going through final checklists and preparations for Tuesday's liftoff.

Discovery is scheduled to return to Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility at 4:47 a.m. Nov. 6.

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