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Published:February 6th, 2008 08:39 EST
Thursday Launch for Atlantis-- weather willing

Thursday Launch for Atlantis-- weather willing

By SOP newswire

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

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www.nasa.gov