Monday, April 19, 2010

Weather scraps Discovery's return today

Low clouds and scattered rain showers around Kennedy Space Center kept shuttle Discovery in orbit for another day, thwarting two landing opportunities this morning.

"Folks really worked it hard down here, and there was a lot of cause for optimism," radioed Rick "C.J." Sturckow, an astronaut communicating with the crew from Houston, shortly before 9 a.m. "But in the end of the day, it's just too low of a ceiling and visibility."

"We know how hard you guys worked it today," replied Discovery commander Alan Poindexter. "We'll be hopeful for better weather tomorrow."

Discovery had hoped to land at 8:48 a.m. or 10:23 a.m.

NASA will activate Edwards Air Force Base as a backup landing site, intending to bring Discovery home Tuesday in either Florida or California.

The shuttle and its seven-person crew have five possible landing opportunities Tuesday, two at KSC and three at Edwards.

The KSC landing times are at 7:34 a.m. and 9:08 a.m. At Edwards, the times are 9:01 a.m., 10:35 a.m. and 12:11 p.m. (all times Eastern).

As of this morning, the forecast was favorable at Edwards and still showed chances of showers that could prevent a return to KSC.

The shuttle mission, now in its 15th day, could stay in space as late as Wednesday, but NASA typically does not wait until the last opportunity to bring a shuttle back to Earth.

Discovery's delay pushed back the planned launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with an Air Force paylod from Wednesday to Thursday. The launch window at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 extends from 7:52 p.m. to 8:01 p.m.

IMAGE: Fog enveloped Kennedy Space Center's Vehicle Assembly Building in between today's first and second landing attempts.


Gaetano Marano said...

not the same problems of Shuttles for landing with the (galactically expensive) “rescue-Orion” [ ] since these TWO ($3 billion each) capsules will need only half of the US Navy ships to recover them from ocean, like in the Apollo era… :)

Anonymous said...

hey FT-they "scrub" launches, not landings. "scrub" basically means the vehicle never left the ground. geez.

Anonymous said...

"Scrubbed" means not launching. It's an old NASA expression. In the early days, launch pads were surrounded by Scrub Palmettos. A rocket that didn't leave the launch pad was therefore "scrubbed", or stuck in the palmettos.

James Dean said...

Duly noted and fixed.