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Observations From The Press Site At Kennedy Space Center

July 21, 1999 ::

Chandra & Columbia on Launch Pad
Chandra & Shuttle Columbia on Launch Pad at KSC.
Photo: NASA
Another hot, hazy day has dawned at the Cape. Crews have been working around-the-clock since the aborted launch of Space Shuttle Columbia with the Chandra X-ray Observatory aboard on July 20. A second launch try is scheduled for tonight, shortly after midnight.

listen to Audio Recording of the Launch Abort
Listen to audio recording of the Launch Abort
When the launch countdown stopped abruptly with seven seconds to go on Tuesday, July 20, a spontaneous groan arose from the hundreds of press and media people gathered at the press site. Anticipation had built steadily throughout the day as the launch countdown had proceeded without a hitch. Even the weather had cooperated and no thunderstorms had developed in the sweltering heat. This looked like a perfect launch opportunity.

As we were to learn later, it had indeed been a perfect launch opportunity. It turned out that the hydrogen leak indicator that caused controllers to halt the launch was in error. Another check by sensors eight seconds later showed that there was no problem. But by then, the right steps for safety had been taken, and the launch had been scrubbed.

There was a bright side to this disappointment, though. If the signal to stop the launch had been a fraction of a second later, the main engines on Columbia would have started and any chance for a quick launch turnaround would have been lost.

"The whole crew salutes the vigilance and professionalism of the launch team and we fully support the decision they made. We will stay in Florida and we are looking forward to having another opportunity to try again when Columbia is ready"
-Eileen Collins
STS-93 Commander


Now we have gathered again at the press site and the countdown is proceeding smoothly. There is only a ten percent chance of thunderstorms this afternoon when the launch team will begin reloading the external tank with 500,000 gallons of liquid propellant. Weather conditions look excellent for tonight. NASA officials report that they have resolved their difficulties with the errant indicator.

First Lady, Hillary Clinton and the co-captain of the U.S. women's soccer team have confirmed that they plan to attend the launch, which is set for Thursday, July 22, at 12:28 a.m. EDT. There is a growing sense of excitement and confidence. GO CHANDRA!!!

-Karen & Wallace Tucker


NASA TV Watch the launch!!!
NASA TV viewing options (on the web and on television!) of STS-93, Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The NASA TV Schedule for launch is also available.


Related Web Sites
Chandra X-ray Observatory Launch! - CXC's Launch information page, includes live video, shuttle info, status reports and more.
Human Spaceflight Web's STS-93 Countdown - includes an overview of the STS-93 mission, payload info, benefits of space explorations, and more.


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