A hush-hush countdown continued Tuesday with the space shuttle Atlantis and its five-man crew facing an unfavorable weather forecast for Thursday's scheduled liftoff for a secret military mission.

A 21-member team of launch managers and engineers Tuesday was to take over key decisions leading to the launch, and the preliminary forecast indicated high winds and clouds.Also scheduled Tuesday were jet training flights for the five military astronauts assigned to the mission, equipment checks and operations reviews.

The decision-making group is headed by former astronaut Robert Crippen, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's deputy director for shuttle operations, who has sole authority to approve or stop a launch.