Monday, September 21, 2009

Live: Discovery on the way back to KSC

Update, 12:08 p.m.: Touchdown! Discovery is home after a 12:05 p.m. landing at KSC atop the modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

Update 12 p.m.: NASA returning shuttle Discovery to Kennedy Space Center by 12:10 p.m. Because of dynamic weather, flyovers of the Brevard County coast are unlikely. The C-9 pathfinder aircraft has already touched down at KSC.

Update, 11:53 a.m.: The C-9 pathfinder aircraft has turned east toward Kennedy Space Center, searching for a hole in the weather for Discovery and the 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to follow. A decision should be made any minute on whether to land at KSC or MacDill AFB.

Click here to track the flight path of the modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with the tail number "NASA911," or here to track the NASA C-9 pathfinder with tail number "NASA932."

Update, 11:35 a.m.: A decision is expected by 11:45 a.m. as to whether Discovery will return to KSC or divert to Tampa.

Thick banks of clouds cover the KSC area, but apparently have not ruled out a Space Coast return.

Current flight paths show the shuttle planning to fly due east from the Orlando area atop its 747 carrier aircraft.

Update, 11:15 a.m.: Discovery is in Florida air space and could return to KSC before noon. No word yet if weather will allow a low cruise up and down Brevard County.

Update, 9:45 a.m.: Discovery is en route to Florida after taking off from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana around 9:40 a.m.

Space shuttle Discovery and its 747 carrier aircraft are expected to depart from Louisiana around 9:45 a.m. EDT.

The flight to Kennedy Space Center takes about two hours and 45 minutes, so the piggybacked aircraft could reach the Space Coast as early as 12:30 p.m. if weather permits.

However, managers are concerned that showers could make it difficult to reach the East Coast.

If so, the ferry flight could divert to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa to refuel and wait for the weather to clear for the last jog across the Interstate 4 corridor.

"We're going to try to make a run at the Cape," said Jennifer Tharpe, a KSC spokeswoman travelling on a C-9 pathfinder aircraft flying about 20 minutes ahead of the shuttle. "We might not be able to make it to the Cape straight away."

Weather conditions will also determine if the 747 is able to take the shuttle on a low-flying cruise around the Brevard County before returning to KSC.

The pathfinder took off from Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, La. at about 9:20 a.m. It has already steered north to avoid showers close to the military base.

Discovery is trying to complete a two-day ferry flight from California that started Sunday and stopped twice in Texas before pausing overnight at Barksdale.

Sign up for test alerts about the flights' progress here.


Anonymous said... has tracking information; flight number is NASA911.

Anonymous said...

Raining now in Downtown Orlando

Anonymous said...

Flightaware works better.