Skies Look Clear for Monday Space Shuttle Launch
The six STS-129 astronauts after arriving at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Nov. 12.
Credit: NASA TV

The skies above NASA's Florida spaceport look to be clear for tomorrow's planned launch of the space shuttle Atlantis.

Atlantis is slated to lift off at 2:28 p.m. EST (1928 GMT) on Nov. 16 from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

"It?s a beautiful day here at Kennedy Space Center," said shuttle weather officer Kathy Winters during a Sunday briefing. "Tomorrow is going to be very similar."

Winters predicted only a 10 percent chance of a cloud ceiling moving in over the launch pad to prevent a flight on Monday.

The main weather concerns are predicted swells and high seas in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cape Canaveral, where boats plan to retrieve the shuttle's spent solid rocket boosters after liftoff. If the waves are too high, the recovery teams may have to wait to fetch the boosters. The issue is not a constraint for launch, though.

The countdown toward liftoff is underway for Atlantis, with the large metal protective shroud covering it at the launch pad set to be removed Sunday at 5:30 p.m. EST (2200 GMT). Ground teams will begin loading the shuttle's huge orange external tank with its liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen propellants at around 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT) on Monday.

"We've had a very clean countdown to date and are currently on schedule with no problems to report," said NASA test director Steve Payne.

The STS-129 mission is a planned 11-day trip to the International Space Station to deliver two carriers filled with large spare parts. Commander Charlie Hobaugh is set to lead six astronauts on the mission, including three first-time spaceflyers.

"At this point we're in very good shape ? Atlantis is ready to launch, the team is ready to launch, and I know that the flight crew is ready to launch," Payne said.

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