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Atlantis countdown begins today

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The countdown for the final space shuttle launch begins today at 1 p.m. EDT, but the launch-day weather forecast looks less than favorable.

At the 10 a.m. pre-countdown status briefing this morning, NASA Test Director Jeremy Graeber reported space shuttle Atlantis is ready for flight, and STS-135 payload manager Joe Delai said the payloads are ready to go as well. The only issue standing in the way of liftoff on Friday is a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms developing along a sea-breeze front, reported Kathy Winters, shuttle weather officer.

The STS-135 astronauts flew to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Independence Day, and today the crew members will review their flight data file and conduct checks of their launch and entry suits.

At Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A, technicians have completed space shuttle Atlantis’ aft confidence checks and final preparations of the main propulsion system.

Despite storms in the area over the extended weekend, there were no reports of adverse weather or lightning strikes inside the launch pad.