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Lili may delay Wednesday's shuttle launch

Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

Oct. 1, 2002 

Lili may delay Wednesday's shuttle launch 

Storm could affect mission control center in Houston 

By Chris Kridler

CAPE CANAVERAL -- Just when it seemed Kennedy Space Center dodged
Hurricane Lili, the storm appears to be headed for Houston's mission
control center, potentially delaying Wednesday's launch of shuttle

Shuttle managers are expected to decide Wednesday morning whether they
need to send Houston-based workers home from KSC to take care of their
homes and families or whether the storm could prompt an evacuation of
Johnson Space Center. 

Only limited mission control facilities exist elsewhere. For instance,
controllers could help land a shuttle from KSC, but they couldn't conduct
complicated docking procedures or spacewalks. 

"It would be wonderful if it would just spin itself out and disappear,
but that's unlikely," shuttle program manager Ron Dittemore said during a
Monday afternoon briefing. 

If there's a delay, he said, "it could be anywhere from hours, if the
storm does not come into the Houston area, to days." 

There are slight weather concerns for launch day at Kennedy Space Center,
including coastal showers. There's a 60 percent chance of acceptable
conditions at launch time. 

It's Houston's forecast, however, that has officials worried. The
worst-case scenario would be Hurricane Lili meandering around the Gulf of
Mexico, building up steam. 

"Then it's a stalemate, Mother Nature or us, and guess who's going to
win?" Dittemore said. "Mother Nature." 

The shuttle is heading for the International Space Station on a
construction mission. 

Astronaut Barbara Morgan, working ground control in Houston, told space
station resident Peggy Whitson about the approaching hurricane, saying
conditions looked favorable for a Houston strike. 

"Favorable, in whose opinion?" Whitson quipped. 

Technically, preparations for launch are going well, and the countdown is
under way. A launch time, between 2 and 6 p.m. Wednesday, will be
announced today. 

The crew has been at KSC since Sunday, undergoing last-minute
preparations and flying the shuttle training aircraft. 

Other developments during Monday's briefing: 

A malfunctioning guidance system on the International Space Station has
been shut down. A Russian system is handling critical navigation tasks. 

The station crew is busy unloading supplies from the Russian Progress
ship that docked with the station Sunday. 

One of the shuttle's emergency landing sites, Ben Guerir Air Base in
Morocco, won't be used for this mission because of general security

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