办事指南

NASA to land shuttle in California

点击量:   时间:2018-02-23 06:02:07

By New Scientist Space and Reuters NASA decided on Friday to land the space shuttle Atlantis at a backup landing site in California after clouds and rain prevented it from landing at its home port in Florida. The shuttle, which spent most of its two-week mission at the International Space Station, is due to land at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert at 1549 EDT (1949 GMT). NASA skipped its first opportunity on Friday to bring the space shuttle Atlantis back home to Florida because of continuing bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center. Clouds and thunderstorms there had also forced NASA to cancel attempts to land at the centre on Thursday. The shuttle is barred from landing in rain due to potential damage to the thousands of black ceramic tiles that protect its underside from the searing heat of re-entry through the atmosphere. Although the shuttle has enough fuel and supplies to remain in orbit until Sunday, NASA intends to bring it back to Earth on Friday. “The mindset is we’re going to land you safely someplace today,” astronaut Tony Antonelli from Mission Control in Houston radioed to Atlantis commander Frederick Sturckow. Atlantis was returning from a nine-day stay at the International Space Station, a $100 billion project of 16 nations that is a little more than half finished. The shuttle carted a third pair of power-producing solar wing panels to the outpost and its crew conducted four spacewalks to install them, fold up another older wing that will be moved to a new location and install equipment needed to prepare for the arrival of additional laboratories. The astronauts also were called upon to repair a hole in the heat shield on Atlantis, which arrived in orbit with a corner of an insulating blanket torn loose. The space agency has been meticulous about scouring the shuttles for damage once they reach orbit since a heat shield failure triggered the destruction of the shuttle Columbia in 2003 and the deaths of seven astronauts. The crew also delivered a new astronaut to the station. Clayton Anderson replaced station flight engineer Sunita Williams, who is returning home aboard Atlantis after a record-breaking six months in space. She surpassed Shannon Lucid’s 188-day mission for the longest-duration spaceflight by a woman. NASA needs to fly 12 more construction missions to finish building the station before the end of 2010,