Skies Look Clear for Monday Space Shuttle Launch

Atlantis Shuttle Astronauts Prepare for Nov. 16 Launch
The six STS-129 astronauts after arriving at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Nov. 12. (Image credit: NASA TV)

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

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

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

Winters predicted only a 10 percent chance of a cloud ceilingmoving in over the launchpad to prevent a flight on Monday.

The main weather concerns are predicted swells and high seasin the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Cape Canaveral, where boats plan to retrievethe shuttle's spent solid rocket boosters after liftoff. If the waves are toohigh, the recovery teams may have to wait to fetch the boosters. The issue isnot a constraint for launch, though.

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

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

The STS-129 mission is a planned 11-day trip to the InternationalSpace Station to deliver two carriers filled with large spare parts. CommanderCharlie Hobaugh is set to lead six astronauts on the mission, including threefirst-time spaceflyers.

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

  • Video ? The STS-129 Crew Rehearses For Shuttle Flight
  • Image Gallery - Shuttle Discovery's Midnight Launch
  • Video Show - Inside the International Space Station is providing complete coverage of Atlantis'STS-129 mission to the International Space Station with Managing Editor TariqMalik and Staff Writer Clara Moskowitz in New York. Click here for shuttle missionupdates and a link to NASA TV.


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Clara Moskowitz
Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz is a science and space writer who joined the team in 2008 and served as Assistant Managing Editor from 2011 to 2013. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She covers everything from astronomy to human spaceflight and once aced a NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training program for space missions. Clara is currently Associate Editor of Scientific American. To see her latest project is, follow Clara on Twitter.