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STS-121 COUNTDOWN BEGAN



SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468

The launch countdown officially began at 5 p.m. EDT today at the T-43 
hour mark. Included in the countdown are nearly 28 hours of built-in 
hold time prior to a targeted 3:49 p.m. launch on Saturday; it is the 
middle point in a launch window that extends for 10 minutes. The launch 
countdown will be conducted from the newly renovated Firing Room 4 
<http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/news/releases/2006/release-20060620.html> 
of the Launch Control Center at Kennedy.

During a countdown status briefing this morning at Kennedy Space Center 
in Florida, NASA Test Director Jeff Spaulding announced that "Discovery 
is in excellent shape."

"We're tracking no issues in our preparation at this point. Our teams 
have been working tirelessly during this last year to help make this 
flight and all shuttle flights as safe as possible for the crews," he 
said. "As we approach our nation's 230th birthday, I'm proud to announce 
that the launch vehicle, the launch and flight teams and flight crew are 
ready to launch and continue our mission completing the space station."

STS-121 Payload Manager Debbie Hahn indicated the payloads have been 
loaded into the orbiter and are ready for flight.

Launch Weather Officer Kathy Winters reported there is a 60-percent 
chance that weather may prevent launch on Saturday. A Bermuda high could 
improve the weather, but the Space Coast will be dealing with 
thunderstorms and anvil clouds which could be an issue because of 
lightning strikes. In the event of a 24-hour delay, the forecast is 
identical -- with a 60-percent chance of weather delaying the launch. 
The chance of weather constraints, if the launch is delayed 48 hours, 
stays at the 60-percent mark because of thunderstorm activity.

Tune in to NASA TV at 10 a.m. Thursday for the Countdown Status Briefing 
and an update on the launch status and weather forecast for mission 
STS-121 with NASA Test Director Pete Nicolenko and Shuttle Weather 
Officer Kathy Winter.

At 4 p.m. Thursday, NASA TV will host a Launch Readiness News Conference 
with Mission Management Team chairman, John Shannon; Mike Suffredini, 
International Space Station Program manager; Mike Leinbach, shuttle 
launch director; Alan Thirkettle, International Space Station Program 
manager for the European Space Agency; and U.S. Air Force First Lt. 
Kaleb Nordgren of the 45th Weather Squadron. They will discuss the 
preparations for the 32nd flight of Space Shuttle Discovery.
Both exciting events can be seen live on NASA TV.

+ Watch NASA TV <http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html>

+ STS-121 Fact Sheet (pdf) 
<http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/151227main_STS-121_Fact_Sheet.pdf>
+ Arrival Image Feature 
<http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/multimedia/arrival_imagefeature.html> 


+ Countdown Begins June 28 
<http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/jun/HQ_M06106_121_countdown.html> 
| + Briefing Schedule 
<http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/jun/HQ_M06107_ksc_briefing.html>
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