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Space Shuttle Endeavor launch could be postponed

Stormy weather could stall this weekend’s launch of space shuttle Endeavour. Forecasters on Wednesday put the odds of acceptable weather at just 40 percent for a Saturday evening launch. Conditions improve only slightly on Sunday.

By MARCIA DUNN, Associated Press / July 8, 2009

Photographers capture Space shuttle Endeavour (STS-127) leaving launch pad 39B at Cape Canaveral, Florida, Sunday, May 31, 2009. Endeavor served as a standby rescue ship during the recent Hubble Telescope servicing mission.

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Stormy weather could stall this weekend's launch of space shuttle Endeavour.

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NASA will try to launch Endeavour on Saturday night, following a pair of delays last month caused by a hydrogen gas leak. The leak has since been plugged; a fueling test validated the repairs last week. But now, NASA will have to deal with thunderstorms.

Forecasters on Wednesday put the odds of acceptable weather at just 40 percent for a Saturday evening launch. Conditions improve only slightly on Sunday.

The seven astronauts assigned to the 16-day mission returned to Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday. They will deliver and install the final piece of Japan's lab at the international space station.

Five spacewalks are planned, more than usual, to complete work on the Japanese lab, replace space station batteries and unload spare parts carried up on Endeavour.

The linked shuttle-station will be home to 13 people for nearly two weeks, a record crowd.

"This promises to be a very exciting mission, and we're certainly eager to get it under way," said NASA test director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson.

NASA's countdown clocks were set to begin ticking late Wednesday.