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Mission managers waited out lingering thunderstorms to begin loading propellant into the space shuttle Endeavour's external tank, but ground crews will have to work fast to get the shuttle ready for its scheduled liftoff at 5:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday.Weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A were deemed unsafe at the scheduled 8:15 p.m. EDT start time for "tanking" operations to begin, and the storms failed to dissipate within the roughly two hours NASA spokesmen originally said was the margin needed for a launch Wednesday. But forecasters predicted the weather would clear, and tanking crews moved into position to begin the three-hour operation as early as possible.The countdown clock never stopped ticking down throughout the weather delay. The order to begin came at 11:02 p.m. EDT, and managers were hopeful they could take advantage of built-in holds to make up some of the time lost to the storm.The seven-member Endeavour crew was awake and ready to begin boarding the orbiter as soon as tanking is completed. The STS-127 mission will spend 11 of its planned 16 days in space docked to the International Space Station, installing the porchlike Exposed Facility on Japan's Kibo laboratory module, prepositioning spare parts that will be too large for delivery to the station after the space shuttle fleet stops flying next year, and delivering flight engineer Tim Kopra to the ISS for a six-month tour. Kopra will replace Japan's Koichi Wakata, who will return to Earth on Endeavour early in July.
os99, STS127, Endeavour, tanking
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