Tanking begins. Candrea Thomas, NASA public affairs office, told media gathered at the press center at 1:50 am that the decision had been made to begin tanking the Atlantis at 2:01 am. Tanking normally tanks several hours.This is one of the last significant steps in preparing the shuttle for launch.
Chances of weather allowing launch at 11:26 am EDT remained only 30-percent, Ms. Thomas added.
The Friday, July 8, 2011 launch window is 3 minutes and 18 seconds from 11:31:46 am EDT to 11:35:04 am.
Weather throughout the week had deterioirated until by Friday, chances of launch were rated by Kathy Winters, shuttle weather officer, at only 30-percent. Nonetheless, it is policy of the NASA launch teams to continue to move forward, weather and mechanicals permitting.
Sometimes it pays off. Shuttles have been launched in a 90-percent no-go weather window when weather cleared briefly and sufficiently to permit launch. But mostly it doesn’t work out.
If the shuttle is not launched on Friday, betting is that NASA will skip the Saturday window and try to launch again on Sunday. Getting its launch crew home and back, with sufficient time to rest, through roads expected to be crowded by about 1-million people will likely prove impossible.