For the second day in a row, Atlantis’ astronauts were foiled in their attempt to land at the Kennedy Space Center by high winds which caused another 24-hour delay in their homecoming until Tuesday.
As was the case on Sunday, flight controllers tried to bring Commander Ken Cockrell, Pilot Mark Polansky and Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam, Marsha Ivins and Tom Jones home during two landing opportunities which were available at the Florida spaceport, but winds continued to gust out of limits, higher than the 15- knot crosswind limit permissible for a Shuttle landing. Weather at the backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, California was also unacceptable with high winds and rainshowers in the area of the Mojave Desert.
Finally, at 12:13 p.m. Central time, Entry Flight Director LeRoy Cain called off today’s landing attempts and directed his team to try to bring Atlantis home on Tuesday to KSC when the forecast calls for slightly improved weather and lighter winds. There are two landing opportunities at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday with the first opportunity calling for the firing of Atlantis’ braking rockets on orbit 200 at 10:20 a.m. Central time, resulting in a landing at the Cape at 11:27 a.m. Central time. The second opportunity would begin with the deorbit burn maneuver on orbit 201 at 11:56 a.m. Central time and a landing at the Kennedy Space Center at 1:02 p.m. Central time.
Two landing opportunities also are available on the next two orbits at Edwards. The first of the Edwards’ opportunities would call for the deorbit burn at 1:27 p.m. Central time and a landing at 2:33 p.m. Central time. The final opportunity of the day on Tuesday for Edwards would involve a deorbit burn at 3:04 p.m. Central time and a landing at 4:09 p.m. Central time. The weather at Edwards is also expected to be better, with a chance of broken cloud decks and lighter winds than were observed today.
Landing support will also be called up for the White Sands Space Harbor at Northrup Strip in New Mexico, which has three landing opportunities available, although all efforts will be made to try to bring Atlantis home in either Florida or California. After reopening Atlantis’ cargo bay doors, the astronauts removed their launch and entry suits and will spend the rest of the day relaxing. They are scheduled to begin an eight-hour sleep period at 7:13 p.m. Central time tonight and will be awakened at 3:13 a.m. Tuesday to resume landing preparations.
Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev wrapped up an extended weekend in which they relaxed in preparation for a busy week of work which begins Tuesday with the continuing activation of systems in the newly installed Destiny laboratory. The crew will also prepare for the undocking and redocking of its Soyuz vehicle Saturday from the aft end of the Zvezda module to the nadir port of the Zarya module, in anticipation of the arrival of an unmanned Progress resupply ship at the Station at the end of the month.
Atlantis is orbiting the Earth in excellent shape at an altitude of 237 statute miles.
The Johnson Space Center newsroom will close at 5 p.m. Central time today and will reopen at 4 a.m. Tuesday. The next mission status report will be issued Tuesday morning after crew wakeup, unless developments warrant.
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