Hurricane Could Delay Shuttle Launch

The crew of Atlantis cannot seek "safe haven" aboard the space station if something happens to Atlantis after it launches and is on orbit. NASA has to have Endeavour ready to launch soon after Atlantis launches.

David Leckrone of the Goddard Space Center has been not-so-patiently waiting for Atlantis to launch to repair Hubble. The seven astronauts have a long to-do list when they get to the space telescope, and time is running out to repair Hubble.

"Of the six gyroscopes three have now failed. Its batteries are degrading. They are rechargeable just like in your cell phone but their ability to recharge gets les and less each time. Hubble also needs a new fine guidance sensor and we need to replace circuit boards in other instruments."

If only weather cooperates. NASA is used to dealing with hurricanes. Several of the space agency's centers are in the hurricane zone. The Kennedy Space Center has routinely closed due to hurricanes. Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center has implemented plans as recently as Hurricane Rita where it moves to a secret location in central Texas for operations. Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed the operations at Michoud in Louisiana where the external tanks for the space shuttle are built.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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