Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Early forecast good for Thursday landing

Less than two day's before the final shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center, planned at 5:56 a.m. EDT Thursday, preliminary forecasts show no issues that would delay an on-time touchdown.

The latest report from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at Johnson Space Center shows scattered clouds and light winds with no violations of landing rules.

"We're looking forward to a good entry and landing on Thursday if weather holds out for us," NASA's Kwatsi Alibaruho said today during his final status update as a shuttle flight director.

Additional detail on landing plans is expected during a 1 p.m. briefing led by LeRoy Cain, the deputy shuttle program manger and head of the Mission Management Team, and Mike Suffredini, the International Space Station program manager.

With Atlantis returning in darkness after 200 orbits, it's likely the only opportunity for most on the Space Coast to see the final shuttle landing will come on TV.

If necessary, Atlantis could attempt a landing one orbit later for a 7:32 a.m. Thursday touchdown, or stay aloft until Friday.

IMAGE: Long-range ground track for first shuttle landing attempt. Click here for more.

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