40% Chance For NASA's Saturday Shuttle Launch - InformationWeek

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40% Chance For NASA's Saturday Shuttle Launch

Precipitation could scrub NASA's scheduled liftoff of shuttle Endeavour to the International Space Station.

NASA said possible rain and thunderstorms mean the space shuttle has only a 40% chance of meeting its Saturday launch schedule.

The shuttle Endeavour is slated to lift off from Florida's Kennedy Space Center at 7:39 p.m. on July 11, but weather could put things on hold.

"Due to expected showers, thunderstorms, and anvil clouds in the area, the launch weather forecast continues to be 40 percent go," NASA said. That could prove disappointing to the thousands of spectators who typically line roads and parks surrounding the space center in an effort to view a shuttle launch.

NASA isn't expecting any problems beyond weather. "All systems are in excellent shape," NASA test director Steve Payne said in a statement. "The STS-127 flight crew, Endeavour, and launch team are ready to go."

The missions astronauts on Thursday were expected to review flight plans, check their launch and re-entry suits, and "relax," according to NASA.

STS-127 is a 16-day mission that will see the Endeavour crew work to complete construction of Japan's Kibo space laboratory. The astronauts will add a platform to the lab's exterior that will allow experiments to be exposed to the vacuum of outer space.

The crew has an international flair. Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette will be aboard the shuttle. American astronaut Timothy L. Kopra will replace Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata upon arrival at the International Space Station.

NASA is expected to phase out the space shuttle program starting next year. Plans call for the development of a rocket and capsule system, dubbed Ares and Orion, to replace the orbiter. Obama officials, however, have recently raised questions about the plan.

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