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Fifth time not a charm for Endeavour liftoff

Shuttle launch scrubbed again

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Space shuttle Endeavour's blastoff was scrubbed once again on Monday, following a month of delays and four previous failed launch attempts.

The shuttle's latest terra firma detainment was called just ten minutes before blastoff due to poor weather. Although a lighting storm several miles south of Kennedy Space Center cleared before the evening attempt, another blossomed to the north provoking a lightning warning at the launch pad.

The botched blastoff was NASA's fifth try to get STS-127 mission to the International Space Station off the ground. It was delayed twice last month due to a leak in the shuttle's hydrogen gas venting system, and three times this month due to stormy weather.

Mission commander Mark Polansky took the development in his stride, according to NASA's official STS-127 launch blog:

"When the time is right, we'll be here and we'll be ready," he radioed from Endeavour.

NASA said the launch team will stand down Tuesday and try again Wednesday evening at 6:03 pm EST (10:03pm GMT). Otherwise, the space agency must wait until the end of July because a Russian supply ship is also awaiting liftoff.

When it does eventually make it off the pad, it will hold the final section of Japan's $1bn space station lab called Kibo. NASA describes it has providing the ISS module with a "front porch" that allows experiments to be exposed to space. The 16-day mission will include five spacewalks to attach the Kibo unit as well as additional ISS maintenance and repair.

When the crew arrives at the ISS, they will be the largest crowd ever in orbit with a total of 13 people.

STS-127 crew members are Commander Polansky, Pilot Doug Hurley and Mission Specialists Dave Wolf, Christopher Cassidy, Tom Marshburn, Tim Kopra and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Julie Payette.

Kopra will join the ISS crew and replace Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata when he departs on Endeavour, concluding a three-month stay at the orbiting station. ®

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