Atlantis Return Delayed Due To Bad Weather

The homecoming of the space shuttle was put off by a day due to bad weather on Thursday. Atlantis, carrying Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams and six others, was was to return to earth after a 13-day mission, evaded two landing attempts because of thick clouds and thunderstorms at and around the Kennedy Space Centre.

According to NASA, the thunderstorms within 55 kilometers and clouds within 8,000 feet of the landing strip at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) forced mission managers to skip both the landing opportunities at 22:20 IST for a 23:25 IST touchdown and at 23:55 IST, for a 01:00 IST landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Today, an attempt could be made at 22:44 IST with landing about an hour later. If the first attempt fails, the second attempt for de-orbit could be made at 0020 IST on Saturday followed by landing at 0121 IST.

The shuttle also has two opportunities available at Edwards Air Force Base in California, if Florida weather remains inclement. The first landing opportunity could be at 01:49 IST on Saturday and landing at 02:52 IST at Edwards. The final opportunity could be one orbit later with the de-orbit burn at 03:25 IST and the landing at 04:26 IST at Edwards.

Interestingly, on last Saturday, the 41 year-old Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams became the first woman to have uninterrupted space flight, surpassing the previous record of 188 days and four hours.

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