BY WILLIAM HARWOOD
STORY WRITTEN FOR CBS NEWS "SPACE PLACE" & USED WITH PERMISSION
Posted: August 25, 2009
Florida's hard-to-predict weather threw the shuttle Discovery's crew a curve ball early Tuesday, worsening when forecasters predicted improvement, generating unexpected lightning and offshore storms. While conditions improved as the morning wore on, the launch team ran out of time and NASA managers were forced to order a 24-hour delay.
Credit: NASA TV
See more images here
"Yep, if we had 30 more minutes to go I think we'd have a real good shot today," Moses said. "But it's obviously not the right thing to do today. So we can knock it off."
"Yes sir, will do," Nickolenko said at 1:25 a.m. He then called Discovery commander Frederick "Rick" Sturckow, saying "well CJ, the vehicle and the operations were cooperating but the local weather unfortunately did not. So we'll have to scrub for the day, but hope to try again tomorrow."
"We copy that, sir," Sturckow replied. "When the weather is ready to cooperate, we'll be ready to go."
Launch was originally set for 1:36:04 a.m. EDT Tuesday and other than the weather, there were no problems of any significance.
Forecasters predicted an 80 percent chance of good weather at launch time, but the air was unstable, storms did not dissipate as expected and the forecast was downgraded to 60 percent no-go after the crew strapped in for launch.
Finally, with persistent rain showers and lightning strikes near the pad, Nickolenko called off the countdown.
The official crew patch for Discovery's flight to deliver and research gear to the space station
is available in the Spaceflight Now Store.
U.S. SHOPPERS | WORLDWIDE
Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford, flight engineer Jose Hernandez, Patrick Forrester, John "Danny" Olivas, European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang and space station flight engineer Nicole Stott planned to climb out of the orbiter and return to crew quarters to await another try early Wednesday.
Assuming no problems develop, NASA will reset the countdown for a launch attempt at 1:10:22 a.m. Wednesday. The most recent forecast called for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions.
NASA must get Discovery off the pad by Sept. 30, or the flight will be delayed to mid October because of upcoming Japanese and Russian space station launches and a conflict with the Air Force Eastern Range, which provides tracking and telemetry for all rockets launched from Florida.
If the weather or a technical problem prevents a launch Wednesday, the shuttle team likely would stand down for 24 hours and then make two more back-to-back attempts Friday and Saturday.
The primary goals of the 13-day mission are to deliver more than 7.5 tons of equipment and supplies to the International Space Station and to ferry Stott to the lab complex to replace outgoing flight engineer Timothy Kopra.
Good Clear Skies
Colin James Watling
Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator of the Stars (Fieldwork)