Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pristine Forecast For Last Shuttle Landing

NASA forecasters are calling for Chamber-of-Commerce weather for the planned landing early Thursday of the nation's 135th and final shuttle flight -- an operation that is slated to end with touch down at Kennedy Space Center about 40 minutes before sunrise.

The four astronauts flying Atlantis are scheduled to glide onto Runway 15 at 5:56 a.m. Thursday. The crew will have a second opportunity to land at 7:33 a.m. NASA officials have been fielding questions about the possibility of delaying until the second opportunity so that the landing takes place in daylight.

That's not in the cards. Assuming the forecast holds up and there are no technical problems, NASA Entry Flight Director Tony Ceccacci will bring the shuttle and its crew home as scheduled.

"If you have a good opportunity, you are going to take it, day or night," he said.

Atlantis has enough electrical power-generating capability to remain in space until Saturday. But for all practical purposes, NASA wants the shuttle to be safely on the ground by Friday at the latest.

Ceccacci doesn't want to pass up a good opportunity to land only to have weather sour, or technical problems crop up. He doesn't want to take a chance that the crew might be endangered.

Neither of the shuttle's two back-up landing sites -- Edwards Air Force Base in California and White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico -- will be staffed on Thursday. Both Edwards and White Sands would be brought up to support landing opportunities on Friday, if need be.


Sahgma said...

Todd, any maps available yet for the path Atlantis will take coming in? Hoping she is high enough to catch the rising sun rays!

Marty Perlman said...

Broken News:

Shuttle Atlantis Changes Course to Mars

The Shuttle Atlantis, due to land at Kennedy Space Center Thursday, 5:30 am EDT, is apparently on a new trajectory to Mars. In a series of unexpected communications to Mission Control, Commander Chris Ferguson informed NASA that he and his crew were extending this last shuttle mission "for the good of the country, our posterity, and the book rights."

More details at the whimsical Thinking Out Loud,

tpickett said...

Todd, at the post-landing conference, ask all the participants what they are going to do after the shuttle program. We seen them for years and wonder what is in their future. Aso, what happens to the shuttle operations room after ending the program? Does any work go on there or do they just turn off the lights and leave everthing to the ISS officials?

Mark Lopa said...

I think it stinks they won't land in the daytime. I have never liked night landings. Who wants to see an infrared image and then see the shuttle in light for five seconds when it touches down, and then back into darkness? The last two launches were only visable for about 15 seconds because of cloud cover (which I don't remember happening too often at all), and the last two landings are in the dark. I don't know...seems prety anti-climatic to me. Maybe it's better that way.

Swakker said...

Good luck to the astronauts aboard Atlantis. I hope they have a safe journey home!

Check out Swakker Shuttle