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50-acre brush fire burns 3 miles from Endeavour launch pad

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The space shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to launch Friday at the Kennedy Space Center
  • The fire poses no danger to the flight's countdown, NASA says
  • The fire may have been caused by Tuesday's lightning storms

(CNN) -- A 50-acre brush fire burned Wednesday about three miles from a launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center, but the fire posed no danger to the countdown for Friday's launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, NASA said.

The fire was being fought by the fire department of the Merritt Island National Refuge on space center property, said Dorn Whitmore, a spokesman for the fire information office.

Tuesday's lightning storms possibly sparked the blaze, Whitmore said.

Six astronauts are scheduled to fly in Endeavour's 36th and final mission on Friday. Mark Kelly, the husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona, will command the mission.

Giffords left Texas Wednesday for Florida, where she plans to attend the launch. She is recovering after being shot in the head in an assassination attempt that killed six people in January in Tucson, Arizona.

In March, a powerful storm including a lightning strike in the launch pad area caused minor damage to the insulation foam at the top of Endeavour. The March storm included a wind gust of 90 miles per hour at launch pad 39A, as well as a lightning strike inside the pad perimeter, according to NASA.

The shuttle underwent two days of inspections due to the damage.

CNN's Marylynn Ryan contributed to this report.