Space Shuttle Countdown

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The countdown for Discovery is entering its final hours. A fuel gauge problem is still unexplained.

But NASA says it's prepared to bend its long-standing safety rules to launch space shuttle Discovery tomorrow at 10:39 a-m.

It was delayed two weeks ago by a malfunctioning hydrogen fuel gauge in the spaceship's giant external tank. This time, forecasters say rain and storm clouds could ultimately decide whether Discovery takes off.

NASA has the paperwork ready to go in case the equipment trouble
reappears and the space agency's managers decide to press ahead
with the launch with just three of the four fuel gauges working. That would mean deviating from a rule instituted after the 1986 Challenger explosion. Only two gauges are needed to do the job. But ever since NASA's return to space in 1988, the space agency has decreed that all four have to work to proceed with launch.

On the Net: NASA: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov