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Countdown begins for STS-112 launch
Posted: Mon, Sep 30, 2002, 2:16 PM ET (1816 GMT)
STS-112 patch (NASA) The countdown towards Wednesday's launch of the shuttle Atlantis started over the weekend, although a strengthening tropical storm could indirectly threaten the launch. The countdown for the STS-112 launch started Sunday, but was not announced until a Monday morning press conference because of heightened pre-launch security. NASA officials said there were no technical issues that could delay the launch. The main concern is Hurricane Lili, a storm that reached hurricane status earlier in the day Monday. The storm is not expected to directly threaten the Kennedy Space Center as is heads towards the US Gulf Coast, but bands of rain in the storms outer fringes could delay the launch. NASA is also developing contingency plans if the storm heads for Houston, where mission control is located. NASA currently estimates a 60 percent chance of acceptable weather for the launch. Atlantis is scheduled to launch between 2 and 6 pm EDT (1800 and 2200 GMT) Wednesday on an 11-day mission to the International Space Station. The exact launch time will be announced Tuesday afternoon.
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