CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Stormy weather Sunday afternoon again forced NASA to scrub the launch of shuttle Discovery.

The decision was made more than two hours before the shuttle and its seven astronauts were set to blast into space.

The astronauts swiftly abandoned the orbiter and returned to their quarters -as lightning warnings blared through the Kennedy Space Center.

The next attempt will come at 2:38 p.m. Tuesday, giving NASA a chance to avoid discouraging weather forecasts for today, top off fuel cells, and allow the astronauts and ground crew to rest.

Lightning-charged clouds, rain and other adverse conditions around the space center were responsible for the latest postponement of the second shuttle flight since the Columbia accident of 2003 and the first flight in nearly a year.

Similar conditions forced NASA to scrub Saturday’s first attempt to launch Discovery.

“We’ve concluded that we’re not going to have a chance to launch today,” launch director Mike Leinbach told the crew.

Shuttle commander Steven Lindsey responded: “Looking out the window, it doesn’t look good today, and we think that’s a great plan.”

Similar conditions forced NASA to scrub Saturday’s first attempt to launch Discovery.

When Discovery finally reaches space, it will deliver a new crewman – along with supplies and equipment – to the International Space Station.

During the 12- or 13-day mission, the astronauts also will test new shuttle inspection and repair techniques.



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