NASA has pushed back the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis because of Tropical Storm Ernesto, currently threatening the East Coast of the United States. The agency has made the decision to roll the shuttle back to its hanger, to protect it from potential damage from the storm. If the rollback does occur, the shuttle won’t be able to fly before its September launch window ends, so it’ll have to be pushed back to October.
Tuesday’s scheduled launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on its STS-115 mission to the International Space Station is being postponed because of Tropical Storm Ernesto. A new launch date has not been set.
Although no final decision has been made, shuttle managers meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center instructed launch teams Monday to continue preliminary preparations to roll Atlantis off its launch pad and back inside the protection of the Vehicle Assembly Building. Managers will follow developments in Tropical Storm Ernesto’s track. A decision on whether to roll back is expected by midday Tuesday.
Ernesto is forecast to pass near Kennedy on Wednesday afternoon.
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The STS-115 crew will remain in Florida until a roll back decision is made. Commander Brent Jett, Pilot Chris Ferguson, and mission specialists Joe Tanner, Dan Burbank, Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper and Canadian astronaut Steve MacLean will study flight plans and spend time with their families.
During STS-115, Atlantis’ astronauts will deliver and install the 17.5-ton, bus-sized P3/P4 integrated truss segment on the station. The girder-like truss includes a set of giant solar arrays, batteries and associated electronics. The P3/P4 truss segment will provide one-fourth of the total power-generation capability for the completed station.
For information about the STS-115 crew and its mission to the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle
Original Source: NASA News Release