NASA Prepares for Shuttle Launch

Shuttle Links To Space Station

There's rain in the forecast, but NASA is still hoping to launch space shuttle Atlantis tomorrow. Joel Brown has the latest from the Kennedy Space Center on NASA's 135th and final shuttle mission.

The weather is not looking good for Friday's final space shuttle launch.

Shuttle Weather Officer Kathy Winters said, “The clouds have rolled in. We are even starting to see some showers. We are expecting more of this for the next couple of days.”

But NASA is not ready to scrub just yet. All pre flight preparations on Atlantis are still going forward.

NASA Test Director Joe Spalding said, “I am expecting, until someone says we are not, that we are going ahead and tank tonight.”

While NASA is determined to stay focused on its historic last mission, workers admit these are emotional times.

Payload Manager Joe Delai said, “It isn't a piece of metal, it is a way of life, it is what we do.”

Up to a million spectators are expected for the launch and many are disappointed that the billion dollar program is ending.

Shuttle Spectator Debbie Dalton said, “I didn't think much about it until I heard it was the last launch and then we were excited about coming down here.”

The 30 year shuttle program has had success and tragedy. Discovery delivered the Hubble telescope to space and 36 shuttle missions helped build and supply the space station.
But two shuttles and their crews were lost, Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003.

After Atlantis touches down for the last time, the U.S. will rely on Russian space craft to carry astronauts back and forth to the International Space Station.

And the Obama administration is promising NASA will work on a future spacecraft to take Americans even deeper into space.

NASA says it has until Sunday or possibly Monday to wait for better weather.. otherwise it will have to wait until next weekend to launch.

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