Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Weather looks favorable for Wednesday landing

The forecast looks promising for Discovery to make its final return home to Kennedy Space Center at 11:57 a..m. Wednesday, the first landing opportunity.

"It looks pretty good," said Tony Ceccacci, the NASA flight director for Discovery's atmospheric re-entry and landing.

KSC will be the only one of three potential landing sites activated Wednesday.

But if Discovery can't make it down on its 202nd or 203rd orbit since launching Feb. 24, NASA would aim to land the crew Thursday in Florida, California or New Mexico.

The shuttle has enough fuel, oxygen and other supplies to remain aloft until Friday, but NASA typically doesn't wait until the last possible day to attempt a landing.

The ground track for the first landing attempt Wednesday would bring Discovery across Sarasota, Lakeland and St. Cloud before reaching the Space Coast.

Current forecasted winds would only allow a landing on the northern end of KSC's three-mile runway, so the shuttle would touch down moving from northwest to southeast.

If necessary, a second landing attempt one orbit later is possible at 1:34 p.m.

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