Atlantis Launch Postponed for 24 Hours
   2006-08-27 03:09:21       Xinhua

(NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham announces a 24-hour delay in the launch of the space shuttle Atlantis on Mission STS-115 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, August 26, 2006. The launch is now scheduled for August 28 to give engineers time to assess possible damage following a lightning strike at the launch pad on August 25. Photo: Reuters)

Related: NASA Begins Countdown for Atlantis Launch

NASA has decided Saturday afternoon to postpone the scheduled Sunday launch for Atlantis for at least 24 hours, according to NASA official website.

"We are scrubbing for 24 hours," NASA spokesman Bruce Buckingham said at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

A lightning struck a wire attached to a tower used to protect the shuttle from such strikes at the launch pad on Friday, but officials need more time to determine whether it has caused any damage to the orbiter, officials said. So the Shuttle Mission Management team decided to delay the launch for at least 24 hours.

NASA also were worried about storms passing through the area before launch time Sunday.

Shuttle weather officers had said earlier in the day that there was a 60 percent chance the weather would prevent the shuttle from blasting off at the scheduled launch time of 4:30 p.m. EDT (2030 GMT) Sunday.

NASA will not launch if there are storms within 23 miles (37 kilometers) of the shuttle landing runway, in case astronauts need to make an emergency landing.

The forecast was expected to improve dramatically for Monday and Tuesday, with only a 20 percent chance that weather would prohibit a launch on either of those days.

The shuttle's launch window closes Sept. 13. 

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