Sunday, April 18, 2010

Weather iffy for Monday landing at KSC

Rain showers are forecasted in the Kennedy Space Center area Monday morning, potentially keeping Discovery and its crew of seven in orbit for a 15th day.

The crew has two landing opportunities Monday at 8:48 a.m. and 10:23 a.m.

A weak cold front over North Florida and a low pressure system over Cuba are combining to create the chance of rain within 30 nautical miles of the runway, which would violate landing rules, NASA flight controllers told the crew this morning.

Discovery commander Alan Poindexter asked for confirmation that the probability of showers appeared to have increased.

"The chance of showers within 30 went to a solid showers within 30, is that correct?" he said.

"That's a good copy, Dex," replied Rick "C.J." Sturckow, an astronaut communicating with the crew from NASA's Mission Control Center in Houston.

KSC conditions are expected to improve slightly Tuesday, when NASA will also activate Edwards Air Force Base in California as a backup landing site. A third site in New Mexico appears unavailable because of rain soaked lake beds.

On Tuesday, landings at KSC are possible at 7:33 a.m. and 9:08 a.m., or at Edwards at 9 a.m., 10:36 a.m. and 12:11 p.m. The forecast at Edwards looks good.

Discovery could stay in space until Wednesday, if necessary, but managers would typically not wait until the last day unless there were a technical problem.

Poindexter said he would scope out the Florida weather soon from above.

"We'll actually get a daylight pass over Florida here in a little while and we'll get to take a pretty good look," said Poindexter.

"There you go," said Sturckow.

IMAGE: The long-range ground track for Discovery's first landing opportunity Monday, after 222 orbits.


Anonymous said...

will the plasma trail for either opportunity be visible from northern california? thanks.

Anonymous said...

Stay in orbit as long as you can. Enjoy the view.

The Space Shuttle is history due to
"Obama the destroyer of Manned Space Flight"
25,000 dedicated employees will be unemployed!
Thank you Obama!!!

James Dean said...

I really can't say if it will be, but I'd definitely be on the lookout. Flight Director Bryan Lunney indicated that the viewing would likely be good for the "western half" of the country, where it will still be dark and hopefully clear. But I'm not sure how close to the ground track you have to be. It's pretty far from northern cal on the first attempt, a bit closer on the second. The shuttle will still be very high at that point and moving very fast.

Anonymous said...

Where was the boom? Why no boom?