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Shuttle beats weather and security worries to launch

发布时间:2019-03-06 02:08:01来源:未知点击:

By Nicola Jones The space shuttle Atlantis blasted off on Thursday, beginning its trip to deliver an airlock to the International Space Station. Bad weather had threatened to delay the launch, as had security problems that closed down one of the shuttle’s emergency landing sites in Morocco. But although rain pounded down on Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, the weather broke in time for a safe fuelling and lift off. The shuttle safely reached orbit at 0915 GMT. The all-American crew of four men and one woman should rendezvous with the space station on Friday. A space-walk on Saturday is scheduled to hook the airlock up to the station’s electricity supply, preventing extreme low temperatures from causing damage to the new module. One modification has been made to the shuttle since its last launch. It is now equipped with a new high-pressure fuel pump on one of its main engines, which is intended to deliver a smoother ride. The housing for the new turbo-pump was made by casting the metal rather than welding it, which makes for a stronger piece of equipment that will hopefully need less maintenance and repair. Days before the launch, one of the shuttle’s emergency landing sites was closed because of security concerns linked to terrorist threats. The site, at Ben Guerir in Morocco, is one of three emergency landing sites NASA uses in case there are problems with the launch of any of its spacecraft. If all three sites were closed due to weather or other problems, the launch would have been delayed. Authorities declined to elaborate on the reason for the close. “This is in line with the worldwide elevation of security concerns,” said Jim Halsell, a senior shuttle program manager. On June 22, US authorities issued a worldwide security alert following threats by exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden. On Monday,