Space Shuttle Discovery Delayed, Again, by Rain

Nov 4, 2010 7:23am

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — The shuttle Discovery, which was supposed to launch on its last mission on Monday, was delayed to Wednesday, then Thursday, and this morning it is holding for at least another day.   It is raining on and off here in Florida — the same cold front passing over most of the eastern U.S. — which made the decision very simple.  Space shuttles showed a long time ago that they are powerful and versatile, but also delicate machines.  The first delay was for a small leak, the second for a voltage fluctuation in a circuit breaker, which they decided they could live with.    The weather is another matter.  A rocket ascending through a Florida rainstorm is a natural lightning rod.  A rocket being fueled in the rain is not much safer.   NASA has already put out word via Twitter: "Space shuttle managers will meet at 5 a.m. EDT Friday to evaluate weather. Discovery's Friday launch attempt would be at 3:03 p.m." Friday's weather forecast is sunny, but windy with gusts up to 30 mph. NASA says there's a 40 percent chance the wind could delay them to Saturday.   (Above: NASA photo from Wednesday night, as the Rotating Service Structure was being retracted.  Time lapse image by Bill Ingalls.)

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