The Discovery will lift off despite the glitch

The Discovery shuttle will lift off on Thursday even if the fuel gauge problem that halted the previous countdown two weeks ago resurfaces, NASA said.

"If the problem recurs ... we're going to do some more tests just to make sure we understand what is causing this to happen. And if we're comfortable that we have a good understanding, then we can go fly," Wayne Hale, deputy manager of the shuttle program, said at a news conference late Sunday, reports the AP.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said he was comfortable with the decision and even hoped the problem would recur to help further pinpoint the source of the trouble. He acknowledged the public might think that the space agency was rushing to launch, but insisted it was the right technical judgment.

Although the focus of NASA's attention has been on the sensor, rain and clouds may end up causing more concern on launch day. Forecasters put the odds of good launch weather Tuesday at 60 percent. The weather at the overseas emergency landing sites also was not looking good.

"When the weather is good, you have vehicle problems. If the vehicle works, you have weather problems," Hale said. "Since we have some weather concerns, I'm confident the vehicle is going to be OK."

According to NASA’s official Web-site, flight systems and ground support hardware are ready and the flight crew and support teams are eagerly looking forward to a successful launch on Tuesday.

NASA has just one week to launch Discovery and its crew of seven to the international space station, before it would put off the mission until September. The space agency has insisted on good lighting in order to see any signs of the type of launch damage that crippled Columbia, the last shuttle launch.

Discovery's 12-day mission will deliver parts and supplies to the ISS. It will also give the astronauts a chance to test new safety features on the shuttle brought in following the loss of Columbia, reminds BBC.

If Tuesday's launch goes ahead as planned, the shuttle will return to Earth on the morning of 7 August, landing at Kennedy Space Center.

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