NASA began the countdown Monday for this week’s space shuttle launch despite a dismal weather forecast.
Meteorologists expect only a 20 percent chance of favorable conditions for Thursday’s scheduled Endeavour liftoff because of a cold front headed toward Florida. Thunderstorms and hail are also in the forecast.
The front should be through the area by Friday, when the odds of good launch weather improve to 80 percent.
Mission managers will review updated weather forecasts today and again Wednesday before deciding whether to fuel Endeavour for Thursday’s 1:37 a.m. EST launch attempt, officials said.
The astronomy mission, at 15 days, is the longest shuttle flight planned by NASA. Four scientists will take turns operating three ultraviolet telescopes aboard Endeavour; the three other crew members will tend to the shuttle.