Summer thunder gives shuttle Endeavour the summertime blues

National Weather Service, Melbourne, Fla., forecast office
This is what NASA and US Air Force forecasters were contending with at launch time. All those angry yellows and reds? Thundershowers. They were heading toward the Kennedy Space Center (on that hump of coast just above Melbourne) and filled the sky within 20 miles of the runway the shuttle has to use if a malfunction required the orbiter to abort its ascent.

Oh well, at least the Boston Red Sox go into the All-Star break in first place and 2-1/2 games ahead of the New York Yankees.

Otherwise, Sunday has been a washout, at least for the crew of NASA's space shuttle Endeavour. For the fifth time in a month, mission managers have had to scrub the shuttle's launch.

Twice last month, it was for a hydrogen leak, which technicians repaired. Then yesterday's launch was put off before the shuttle was fueled and before astronauts had boarded. Mission managers wanted to analyze data on the shuttle's systems after a series of lightning strikes during a storm on Friday. The verdict: No damage to any system.

This time, the shuttle was fueled up, the astronauts were strapped in, and they were a scant 10 minutes from lift-off when managers nixed the launch for weather reasons.

A line of thundershowers was encroaching on Kennedy Space Center -- too close for comfort, especially if the shuttle had to abort its ascent and return to Kennedy Space Center.

So, Endeavour's launch had been reschedule for July 13 at 6:51 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time. Stay tuned...

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