Friday, May 22, 2009

Atlantis Crew Sleeps; Landing Tomorrow

The seven member crew of Atlantis were treated to an extra day in earth orbit this morning due to poor weather at the Kennedy Space Center, and everyone in Mission Control hopes that a rain system clears out for landing tomorrow morning.

A tropical weather producer continues to dampen the Cape Canaveral region today, and forecast models for Saturday morning call for more of the same - rain showers and low clouds with 30 nautical miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility.

So the question becomes not when, but where will Atlantis touchdown this weekend. NASA will have six available landing attempts for tomorrow, the first at 9:15 am EDT (above) here at Kennedy's Runway 15. A second attempt would occur 99 minutes later at 10:54 am on the next orbit. And, the final KSC attempt could occur at 12:33 pm.

The final attempts would be at Edwards, AFB in California with main gear touchdown at either 10:45 am, 12:23 pm or 2:02 pm EDT.

The crew, led by commander Scott Altman, began their sleep period at 5:01 pm today and will awaken eight hours later.

Once the crew has awoken tomorrow morning and had their meal, they will await a "go / no-go" call from STS-125 entry flight director Norm Knight. If Mission control does wave-off Kennedy's 9:15 am attempt, it is likely that all attempts will be waved off, and the decision to head for Edwards will be made. Atlantis has enough consumables to stay in space for several more days.

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