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Storms cause 5th launch delay for Endeavour

Associated Press / July 14, 2009
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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - Thunderstorms once again forced NASA to call off the launch of space shuttle Endeavour yesterday, the fifth delay for the space station construction mission.

NASA said it would try again tomorrow, after taking a one-day break.

In a scene nearly identical to Sunday, launch managers halted the countdown just minutes before Endeavour and seven astronauts were supposed to blast off in the early evening.

This time, storms packed with lightning popped up on opposite sides of the launching site, one after the other, close enough to violate NASA’s safety rules.

Endeavour has been grounded for a month now, first by leaks, then stormy weather. If the shuttle isn’t flying soon, it will have to wait until July 27 so Russia can launch supplies to the space station.

This was the third day in a row that thunderstorms prevented Endeavour from blasting off with the final piece of Japan’s space station lab. In June, hydrogen gas leaks stalled two launch attempts.

The only technical concern yesterday was a loose cover on a shuttle thruster. NASA said it would secure the cover before tomorrow’s try to prevent rain from getting into the thruster.

Endeavour holds the third and final segment of Japan’s $1 billion space station lab, named Kibo, or Hope. It’s a porch for experiments that need to be exposed to the vacuum of space. The shuttle is also loaded with large spare parts for the station and hundreds of pounds of food for its six residents.