November 14, 2008
Posted: 01:46 PM ET
With the weather the only question mark at this time, the seven-member crew of Space Shuttle Endeavour will suit up and close the hatch in the 5 p.m. ET hour today, hoping that a cold front with potential cloud cover and crosswinds will permit the launch at 7:55 ET this evening.
It's only the third nighttime launch since the Shuttle Columbia disaster five years ago. NASA mission managers were reluctant to launch after dark, when it would be harder to spot the kind of launch damage that eventually doomed the seven-member Columbia crew. A piece of insulating foam separated from Columbia's fuel tank, piercing the shuttle's leading wing edge and compromising its protection from the intense heat of re-entering the atmosphere.
CNN's Miles O'Brien will broadcast live from Kennedy Space Center for the launch; he'll be accompanied by Janice Voss, a veteran of five previous shuttle missions. Should the launch be scrubbed for weather or technical reasons, there are other launch opportunities Saturday at 7:25 p.m., and Sunday at 7:02 p.m., though Saturday's weather looks dicey as well.
Endeavour will carry a module to add to the ISS, expanding sleeping quarters and adding toilet facilities with a goal of expanding the station's capacity to host up to six long-term occupants.
Peter Dykstra Executive Producer CNN Science, Tech, and Weather
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