Thursday’s Severe Weather Will Delay Start of TCDT Friday, Program FRR Complete

The day-long severe weather that had been hitting NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla., on Thursday is causing teams to move space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-134 mission launch dress rehearsal, known as the Terminal Countdown Demonstration Test (TCDT), later into Friday. Storms with strong wind, rain and lightning had been keeping teams off of Launch Pad 39A and delaying preparations for Friday’s practice countdown. The weather has now improved enough for personnel to begin working on the launch pad. The simulated launch time, T-0, which had been set for 11 a.m. EDT, now is targeted for 4 p.m. Managers will meet Friday morning to assess how TCTD preparations are progressing and make any adjustments if needed. TCDT provides astronauts and ground crews with an opportunity to participate in various simulated countdown activities, including a launch day rehearsal for crews inside the shuttle. Thursday’s severe weather also has prevented teams from conducting a thorough survey of Endeavour and the pad following Wednesday’s strong storm that passed through the region. No one was injured and initial assessments indicate there was only some minor foam insulation damage to Endeavour’s external fuel tank. No other obvious damage has been seen, but the team’s survey, which is expected to start Friday, will verify there is no additional damage. The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron reports that during Wednesday’s storm the pad briefly saw sustained 57 mph wind (50 knots), with a peak gust of 90 mph (79 knots). Small hail was spotted near the pad, and there was a lightning strike about a half mile from the pad’s center. Again, there was no indication of damage from the strike, but that will be assessed by the teams during their pad walkdown. Also on Thursday the Space Shuttle Program held its Flight Readiness Review (FRR) meeting on the STS-134 mission. Following their detailed review, shuttle managers unanimously agreed to proceed to the agency FRR on April 8 and continue to target April 19 as Endeavour’s launch date to begin the 14-day flight to the International Space Station.

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