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Shuttle Endeavour Launch Delayed Until Monday


As a thunderstorm approached, launch officials scrubbed Endeavour's 7:13 p.m. Sunday launch to the International Space Station.

The next launch attempt will be at 6:51 p.m. Monday.

"We got the vehicle ready, but the weather unfortunately did not cooperate with us today," launch director Pete Nickolenko radioed to Endeavour commander Mark Polansky. "We had some colliding sea breezes."

"We understand and we'll be ready," Polansky replied.

The approaching weather system threatened the launch and would have prevented Endeavour returning to Kennedy Space Center during an aborted launch.

The launch weather forecast for Monday held a 60 percent chance of a successful launch.

On the 127th shuttle mission, seven astronauts aim to fly Endeavour to deliver the third and final section of the Japanese Kibo science research facility to the station. Five spacewalks are planned on what promises to be the longest station assembly mission to date.

Veteran astronaut Mark Polansky is the mission commander. His crew includes pilot Douglas Hurley, flight engineer Julie Payette of the Canadian Space Agency, lead spacewalker David Wolf and mission specialists Tom Marshburn, Chris Cassidy and Tim Kopra. Kopra will replace Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata on the station. Wakata will return to Earth aboard Endeavour.

The delay was the fourth for the Endeavour crew. Gaseous hydrogen leaks forced launch scrubs on June 13 and June 17. Sunday's launch was delayed to check for electrical damage from lightning.

During a Friday thunderstorm, 11 lightning strikes hit within one-third of a mile of pad 39A. Seven of those strikes actually hit the lightning protection system at the launch pad. The shuttle is protected by a lightning mast at the top of the pad 39A launch tower and a system of wires that direct voltage to the ground.

The shuttle itself was not hit. But two of those strikes created either a voltage spike or a magnetic field above NASA limits, triggering a thorough review of shuttle electrical systems.

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