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Shuttle News

Shuttle Update – Back and Forth

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
August 27, 2006

Editor’s 27 Aug 9:10 pm EDT update: NASA did indeed announce that they have put off a final decision as to whether they will proceed with launch preparations – or prepare to roll the shuttle back to the VAB until 7:00 am EDT on Monday. The track of Ernesto seems to have developed in a way that gives NASA some optimism that it will not affect launch preparations. In addition, analysis of the SRBs shows that the lightning strike most likely did not affect SRB systems.

Editor’s 27 Aug 7:41 pm EDT update: NASA will announce at 8:00 pm EDT that they have not made a decision after all and that we have to wait until 7;00 AM EDT Monday for a final answer. Meanwhile, a L-1 MMT meeting is being planned for 10 am EDT on Monday.

Hurricane Ernesto Updates, NOAA

Editor’s update: The MMT has determined that Atlantis will not launch before Tuesday. This is due to the lightning strike – and the need for further analysis. Yesterday’s inspections did not reveal any damage but more analysis is required. Meanwhile – the possibility that a hurricane off the coast of Florida could threaten to violate acceptable wind constraints on the launch pad could force NASA to roll the orbiter back to the VAB – thus preventing a Tuesday launch.

Editor’s note: MMT representatives toured the pad last night and met to discuss what they saw. This morning’s MMT meeting has been rescheduled to 6:00 pm today at which time it should be clear what NASA plans to do. Expect word around 7:00 pm EDT. Meanwhile, there will be an internal weather briefing at 1:00 pm EDT and a briefing with Bill Gerstenmeier at 2:00 pm EDT.

Right now a number of concerns are swirling about: possible lightning damage to the pyrotechnics on the SRBs (and perhaps other orbiter systems), the possibility that a hurricane off the western coast of Florida on Tuesday will produce unacceptable winds here at the Cape, and the impending launch of a Soyuz to the ISS in September and the need to not have an orbiter – and a visiting Soyuz – at ISS at the same time.

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.