Two high level management meetings decided to keep Shuttle Discovery on the launch pad – as the threat of Hurricane Dennis remained predicted to the west of Florida.
Hurricane Dennis is close to becoming “Cat 5” – as it approaches the south coast of Cuba – and the Kennedy Space Center are still carefully watching for any potential threat from the high winds – especially if Dennis changes course.
Spaceflightnow.com reported that the outcome of the midnight EDT meeting resulted in a decision to pause in the rollback procedure that had been ongoing today – thus giving NASA the opportunity to still go ahead with the planned July 13 launch date.
Had any more rollback procedures been undertaken tonight, the 13th would have been out of reach.
Before the meeting, one USA source noted: “We’ll be doing a ‘minimal’ ordnance dis-connect on 1st shift Friday, preparatory to rollback if decision goes that way.”
That has now been cancelled by a second meeting (at 6:30am EDT), with ordnance being re-installed into the Shuttle.
Hurricane Dennis is still heading west of the Kennedy Space Center, although there still remains some uncertainty as to how KSC will be affected by strong winds should it move off its predicted path. NASA has to decide on a rollback in time to ensure the Shuttle is back in the Vehicle Assembly Building before the wind strength increases to dangerous levels.
Despite the current predicted distance away from KSC, for NASA to make the July 13th launch date, weather must allow workers to continue preparations for launch. The area is still under the threat of storms, lightning and tornados.
Any change to Dennis’ path will be monitored by the Shuttle launch weather officer – but the threat appears far less likely than it did 24 hours ago.
Thanks to www.spaceflightnow.com for updated briefing information.