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STS-121 STATUS 9:30AM EDT - 2 JULY 2006


9:30 a.m. - The countdown is at T-3 hours and holding. Good morning and 
welcome to NASA's Launch Blog. Space Shuttle Discovery sits atop launch 
pad 39B and the countdown is continuing toward a launch time of 3:26 
p.m. this afternoon. Storm clouds and thunder currently roll across 
Kennedy Space Center's skies. Kathy Winters 
shuttle weather officer, forecasts a 70-percent chance of weather 
prohibiting a launch this afternoon due to thunderstorms and anvil 
clouds. There is a 60-percent chance of weather prohibiting launch 
should there be a 24-hour turnaround, and a 40-percent chance with a 
48-hour delay. If we scrub today due to weather, mission managers will 
meet later to decide if they want to make a third consecutive launch 
attempt or stand down for one day and try again on Tuesday.

*The following events took place before the start of live coverage:*

Fueling operations began at 5:28 a.m. with the chilldown thermal 
conditioning of the propellant lines and Discovery's plumbing. The 
chilldown prepares the systems for the shock of the approximately 
500,000 gallons super-cold cryogenic liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen 
fuels that will be pumped into the shuttle's external tank. Tanking was 
completed at 8:23 a.m. for a total time of 2 hours and 55 minutes. Word 
was then received that we had gone into stable liquid oxygen and 
hydrogen replenish mode to keep the tank topped off through the rest of 
the countdown.

An area of showers was seen approaching the Cape and rain was expected 
to arrive a little before 9 a.m. We entered the T-3 hour built-in hold 
at 8:31 a.m. This hold is three hours in length, one hour longer than 
the usual two hours in order to give the final inspection team more time 
to complete the checks of the shuttle after fueling.

The MILA Tracking Station here at Merritt Island has configured its 
communications antennas for launch and the initial communications checks 
with the Air Force-controlled Eastern Range have been performed.

The Final Inspection Team and the Closeout Crew were given the all clear 
to head out through the roadblock and arrived at the pad at 8:35 a.m. 
The Final Inspection Team, known as the "Ice Team," will begin the 
inspection of the shuttle for ice and debris once they arrive at the pad.

The Ice Team arrived at Pad 39B and is beginning their inspections from 
the 255-foot level. They will continue to inspect the entire shuttle, 
working their way down to the base of the vehicle at the Mobile Launcher 
Platform (MLP) level. This inspection usually takes approximately two 

The Ice Team is composed of seven NASA and contractor members who carry 
binoculars and a telescope to get a better look at the hard-to-see 
areas. The team objective is to assess the integrity of the thermal 
insulation on the external tank. They also look for ice and frost 
formations on the tank, measure temperatures on various parts of the 
vehicle, as well as assess debris concerns on the shuttle and pad that 
could impact launch or flight safety.

The Orbiter Closeout Crew is in the launch pad White Room. The White 
Room sits on the end of the Orbiter Access Arm catwalk that extends to 
Discovery's crew module. They will make the final preparations for the 
astronaut's arrival at the pad a few hours from now.
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