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Tuesday
Jul052011

Final Countdown Begins for Space Shuttle Atlantis' Launch

NASA/Kim ShiflettUPDATE: Space shuttle Atlantis' scheduled July 8 launch date runs the risk of being postponed due to inclement weather.

"Right now we are going with a 60 percent chance of [Kennedy Space Center] weather prohibiting launch due to the potential for showers and isolated thunderstorms in the area," says Mission Weather Officer Kathy Winters.

(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- After taking the Fourth of July holiday weekend off, launch pad engineers are back at work in Florida as the final countdown for NASA's last space shuttle mission begins Tuesday.

On Monday, the four-man crew who will board space shuttle Atlantis -- Commander Chris Ferguson, Pilot Doug Hurley, and Mission Specialists Sandy Magnus and Rex Walheim -- arrived at Kennedy Space Center, where they will continue training and spend some time with their families before blasting off into space on Friday.

Speaking to reporters upon his arrival, Commander Ferguson said, "I think I speak for the whole crew in that we are delighted to be here after a very arduous nine-month training flow and we're thrilled to finally be here in Florida for launch week."

Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled for lift-off on July 8 at 11:26 a.m.  As part of their 12-day mission to the International Space Station, Ferguson and his fellow astronauts will carry critical parts and goods to keep the station supplied for the next year.

Local officials expect a million people will line area roads to see the final flight of the space shuttle program.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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