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STS-122: Launch Thursday? Weather Concern

Atlantis and her American/European crew are set to launch tomorrow, but heavy weather may thwart the attempt. STS-122 will be the first of possibly 6 Shuttle flights this year. NASA reports:

Launch Team Eyes Weather

Atlantis following the rollback of the rotating service structure. NASA PHOTO NO: KSC-08PD-0174 Image: Space shuttle Atlantis is revealed on Launch Pad 39A after the rotating service structure, or RSS, at left of the pad was rolled back. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
› Hi-Res Image

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Feb. 6
Weather is the watch word at NASA's Kennedy Space Center after meteorologists updated their launch forecast to give space shuttle Atlantis a 30 percent chance of acceptable conditions on Thursday.

Liftoff is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. EST, which is the middle of the 10-minute launch window. The timing is precise so Atlantis can catch up and dock with the International Space Station.

Forecasters expect a cold front to move over Kennedy on launch day and bring with it clouds and storms. Meteorologists also think the front may stall over Central Florida, so they also lowered the chances for acceptable weather if launch attempts are made Friday or Saturday.

Friday's forecast calls for a 60 percent chance of acceptable weather, while Saturday's forecast sets the odds at 70 percent for acceptable conditions.

NASA has strict flight rules for weather that include limits on cloud height, storms in the area and clouds that could produce lightning. The criteria are set in part by the conditions a shuttle would need if it has to make an emergency landing soon after liftoff.

The good news for Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts is that the shuttle is showing no technical issues and liftoff preparations are continuing at the launch pad and in the launch team facilities.

› Weather Forecast

Related Video
STS-122 Commander Stephen Frick talks about spaceflight.
› View Vodcast

Media Resources
› STS-122 Press Kit (5.5 Mb PDF)
› STS-122 Fact Sheet (752 kb PDF)
› STS-122 TV Schedule
› ECO Sensor System Fact Sheet(457 kb PDF)

New prelaunch pics are up at the KSC Gallery. Discussion here. Blog coverage here and here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.