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The Clock is Ticking June 29, 2006

Posted by jtintle in Astronaut, Kennedy Space Center, Space Shuttle, Spacecraft.

Discovery crew addresses the media.

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Image above: Crew arrives at Kennedy. At the microphone is Pilot Mark Kelly. From left are Commander Steven Lindsey, Mission Specialists Lisa Nowak and Michael Fossum, Kelly, and Mission Specialists Stephanie Wilson, Piers Sellers and Thomas Reiter.

 Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The launch countdown officially began at 5 p.m. EDT today at the T-43 hour mark. Included in the countdown are nearly 28 hours of built-in hold time prior to a targeted 3:49 p.m. launch on Saturday; it is the middle point in a launch window that extends for 10 minutes. The launch countdown will be conducted from the newly renovated Firing Room 4 of the Launch Control Center at Kennedy.

During a countdown status briefing this morning at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding announced that "Discovery is in excellent shape."

"We’re tracking no issues in our preparation at this point. Our teams have been working tirelessly during this last year to help make this flight and all shuttle flights as safe as possible for the crews," he said. "As we approach our nation’s 230th birthday, I’m proud to announce that the launch vehicle, the launch and flight teams and flight crew are ready to launch and continue our mission completing the space station."

STS-121 Payload Manager Debbie Hahn indicated the payloads have been loaded into the orbiter and are ready for flight.

Launch Weather Officer Kathy Winters reported there is a 60-percent chance that weather may prevent launch on Saturday. A Bermuda high could improve the weather, but the Space Coast will be dealing with thunderstorms and anvil clouds which could be an issue because of lightning strikes. In the event of a 24-hour delay, the forecast is identical — with a 60-percent chance of weather delaying the launch. The chance of weather constraints, if the launch is delayed 48 hours, stays at the 60-percent mark because of thunderstorm activity.

Tune in to NASA TV at 10 a.m. Thursday for the Countdown Status Briefing and an update on the launch status and weather forecast for mission STS-121 with NASA Test Director Pete Nicolenko and Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winter.

At 4 p.m. Thursday, NASA TV will host a Launch Readiness News Conference with Mission Management Team chairman, John Shannon; Mike Suffredini, International Space Station Program manager; Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director; Alan Thirkettle, International Space Station Program manager for the European Space Agency; and U.S. Air Force First Lt. Kaleb Nordgren of the 45th Weather Squadron. They will discuss the preparations for the 32nd flight of Space Shuttle Discovery.
Both exciting events can be seen live on NASA TV.

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