Feeds

Atlantis launch under pressure from Ernesto and Russia

Old allies...

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Tropical storm Ernesto has almost menaced the Shuttle Atlantis back into a storm-proof hanger, as NASA mission managers wait for the weather to clear.

Managers are preparing to roll the Shuttle off the launch pad today, unless the forecast changes dramatically.

If the shuttle does have to be moved, the mission will be set back by at least several days, and possibly over a month.

NASA says that even if the weather miraculously clears and Ernesto changes course, the launch is unlikely to happen before next Sunday (3 September).

The forecast is most likely to send Atlantis scurrying for shelter, a move that on its own takes around six hours. If the shuttle is mothballed, the whole launch procedure will have to begin again, making it unlikely that Atlantis will take to the skies before 8 September, further delaying the long overdue work on the International Space Station.

The delay is more than a costly irritation. The mission was supposed to be finished and NASA's astronauts on their way home by 14 September to make space on the ISS for the next Russian arrivals.

NASA may have to wait until this mission is completed before sending Atlantis up. If negotiations with the Russians don't go well, the Shuttle could be grounded until late October.

Ernesto is not expected to leave the area any time soon. Forecasters predict the storm will gain strength over the coming days before graduating to full hurricane status and sweeping through central Florida.

Atlantis was originally scheduled to launch on 27 August, before the launch pad was struck by lightning. Although engineers concluded no damage was done, NASA had already had to postpone the countdown.

Mike Suffredini, NASA's space station program manager told the Houston Chronicle that the next few flights would be critical to the success of the ISS. "This flight has to occur for the next flight to occur and then the next flight and the next flight," he said. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
'Utter killjoy Reg hacks have NEVER BEEN LAID', writes a fan
'Shuddit, smarty pants!' Some readers reacted badly to our last Doctor Who review ...
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
White LED lies: It's great, but Nobel physics prize-winning great?
How artificial lighting could offer an artificial promise
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.