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Mon, Feb 06, 2006

All Systems Go For Tuesday Launch Of Ultimate Flight

... But Weather May Force Delay

The mood is one of cautious optimism at Kennedy Space Center -- and not just because NASA hopes to launch the space shuttle within the next several months. Spirits are also high because everything looks good for takeoff Tuesday morning of Steve Fossett and the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer from the fabled spaceport.

The GlobalFlyer team has been mobilized for "Code Green," meaning weather conditions over the next several days look favorable for launch. The UK flight control team winged its way to Florida Sunday to assist with the takeoff, while the mission control center in Crawley, Sussex, England is expected to be reopened Monday.

The road to Tuesday's expected launch at 6:42 am has been paved by delays, including a brief scare last month after a ground accident resulted in damage to one of the GlobalFlyer's wings. And controllers are keeping their eyes on a storm front that may move into the area, just in time to scrap the launch once more.

"...There is the risk of a small weather front reaching Kennedy Space Center," says a statement on the GlobalFlyer website. "If the front arrives before launch, the rain and warm temperatures would result in a cancellation."

For the moment, however, the party's still on... and we wouldn't be at all surprised if Fossett is banking all the sleep he can now, as there will be very little chance for slumber during his expected 80-hour record flight.

If all goes to plan, Fossett will land in England sometime Friday, having travelled nonstop for a longer distance than has ever been accomplished before by ANY flying machine.

Stay tuned to ANN for updated, REAL TIME coverage of this historic flight!

FMI: www.globalflyer.com

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