Thursday, November 26, 2009

Forecast excellent for Friday shuttle landing

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Weather conditions look like they'll be ideal for a planned 9:44 a.m. EST Friday landing by Atlantis and seven astronauts at Kennedy Space Center.

"It's looking really good," said Bryan Lunney, entry flight director.

The forecast includes a few clouds at 2,000 feet and 20,000 feet. If there's any potential concern it could be headwinds, Lunney said, but they are not expected to top a 25-knot limit.

If conditions changed and Atlantis could not land as planned, there is a second opportunity at KSC one orbit later at 11:19 a.m.

If necessary, two more opportunities are possible Saturday 9:59 a.m. and 11:34 a.m.

NASA is so confident in the local forecast that it does not plan to activate its backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in California until Sunday.

Meanwhile, Lunney said today's tests of shuttle engines and thrusters and flight control systems, including the wing flaps and rudder, have all gone well.

"Atlantis is in great shape, the crew is in great shape," he said.

Atlantis launched Nov. 16 on a planned 11-day mission to the International Space Station.

The shuttle crew delivered 14 tons of spare parts, performed three spacewalks and picked up station flight engineer Nicole Stott for the ride home.

Join us Friday morning for live coverage of the landing.

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