Baton Rouge, LA (PressExposure) July 02, 2011 -- [http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/all/7566164.html]
By SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer © 2011 The Associated Press
With wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords on hand to watch, the space shuttle Endeavour is poised to give the work week a roaring and historic start Monday, overcoming wiring problems that grounded it last month.
NASA began fueling Endeavour late Sunday night for the second-to-last shuttle flight.
Giffords' arrival in the afternoon included a quick fly-by of Endeavour on the launch pad, then she bid husband Mark Kelly goodbye at the bucolic beach house used by shuttle crews before launch.
"Gabrielle is excited for tomorrow's launch. Do you plan to see history in the making?" her staff tweeted. Later, her staff added: "Gabrielle & Mark said goodbye during visit before launch. Beach House made for picturesque setting."
NASA officials said conditions - from weather to technical issues - couldn't look much better for the scheduled 8:56 a.m. launch Monday.
Giffords, traveling on a NASA jet with the family of pilot Gregory Johnson, arrived shortly after the protective structure that surrounds Endeavour was moved out of the way - a milestone in launch preparations that allows fueling to begin late Sunday night.
NASA was so ready to get the flight off the ground that they moved the protective scaffolding 15 minutes earlier than planned.
There was only a 30 percent chance of a weather delay, mostly because of crosswinds.
The conditions were far different from last month's futile launch attempt. The protective cover wasn't removed for five hours because of storms, and the launch was scrubbed because of an electrical problem.