NASA is still confident weather won't factor into Friday's launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, despite a slight increase in the chance of storms.
The space agency increased the probability of a weather-delayed launch to 30 percent; up from 20 percent, according to Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters. NASA said the only possible problem could be crosswinds at the Shuttle Landing Facility and a low cloud ceiling associated with a front moving into central Florida.
In the past day, terrible thunderstorms have been ravaging the south, specifically the state of Alabama, and are expected to hit Florida tonight. NASA originally planned for the rotating service structure (RSS) to be retracted at 7 p.m tonight. However, that may be delayed because of possible storm activity over the center.
The National Weather Service says there is a 20 percent chance of rain in the Cape Canaveral area tomorrow during the launch, with winds possibly up to 20 mph. The launch is scheduled for 3:47 pm Eastern Time.
Mother Nature also caused another type of delay. Brush fires were reported southeast of the turn basin, which is approximately three miles from the launch pad. However, Fish and Wildlife officials reported that the brush fire is now fully contained, despite some remaining smoldering and smoking. No personnel injuries were reported and no impact is expected to operations at the launch pad. Wildlife officials plan on burning off the remaining fuel within the fire area to help eliminate any smoke on launch day.
The shuttle launch is the last ever mission for the space shuttle Endeavour as well as the penultimate mission for the 30-year space shuttle program. It also features commander Mark Kelly, husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was nearly shot to death earlier this year. Both Giffords and the President Barack Obama will be in attendance as Endeavour makes its final journey into space. It will be Giffords first appearance since being shot.
The 14-day mission will see the crew of the Endeavour deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank, additional spare parts for Dextre to the International Space Station. After it finishes up, NASA will conclude the space shuttle program with the Atlantis. Following that, the three remaining space shuttles and a fourth prototype will head to museums.
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