Weather May Postpone Atlantis Launch

Blast-off tomorrow has 70% chance of being rained out: NASA
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 4:46 PM CST
Space Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters, right, gestures as Debbie Hahn, center, shuttle payloadmManager, and Jeff Spaulding, NASA test director, look on during a pre-launch status briefing Wednesday...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Conditions don’t look great for tomorrow’s launch of the space shuttle Atlantis, reports. The scheduled 2:45 pm ET launch has a 70% chance of being rained out as the southern US continues to feel the cold front that loosed several deadly tornadoes yesterday. If a thunderstorm or thick cloud cover scraps the launch, NASA will try again Friday.

Mission managers said the best scenario would be the lightening of weather conditions just before tomorrow’s launch. "As we all know, weather in Florida changes very rapidly. Things may improve or improve enough to get us the ability to get off the ground,” said one NASA official. Rain can damage a shuttle’s thermal protective shield, making it unable to withstand exiting the atmosphere.