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Sweden hopes for shuttle launch at second attempt

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12:18 CET+01:00
Sweden's obsession with the imminent space shuttle mission was undiminished by Thursday night's postponement and will surge again as the next planned lift-off looms on Saturday.

At the first attempt the cloud was too low. The next launch attempt will be at 20.47 on Saturday (2.47am Sunday Swedish time). But the weather is still poor, with strong cross winds, low cloud and rain showers.

According to Nasa, there is only a 30 percent chance of a launch on Saturday, but better weather is forecast from Sunday to Tuesday.

The decision about whether to fuel Discovery's external tank will be taken by Nasa at 5pm Swedish time, Reuters reported.

The 46 metre high tank, which contains two million litres of liquid oxygen and hydrogen, was topped up on Thursday night. But at ground level the oxygen slowly boils away and the procedure must be repeated prior to lift-off.

The first attempt was aborted just five minutes before lift-off, something which the astronauts seemed less disappointed by than the legions of Swedes staying up through the night to witness the historic launch.

Writing a message from quarantine, Christer Fuglesang commented on the prospects for a successful launch at the second attempt.

"Our daily rhythm is becoming earlier, since with every day which passes the start window is moved forward 23-24 minutes. This evening (Friday night here) I'll go to bed at 3am and sleep until 11am. Mission Management Team will meet at 9.45am and decide whether it is worth beginning to refill the shuttle again."

"If so, we will begin the day just like Saturday. Otherwise, we'll be free for another day. The last prognosis I saw gave a 70 percent risk of bad weather. We'll see - does anyone remember the film Groundhog Day," he said, referring to the 1993 movie, in which Bill Murray's character experienced the same day over and over again.

On Friday Fuglesang saw his family again, and he explained that they were being taken care of by two former astronauts.

"It's an old tradition that astronauts do that," he wrote.

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