After an extra day in orbit, Atlantis' astronauts will try again to return to the Kennedy Space Center today to wrap up a 4.9 million mile mission to deliver the U.S. Laboratory Destiny to the International Space Station (ISS). Preliminary weather forecasts indicate the possibility of gusty winds and decks of broken clouds at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Cape this afternoon, similar to the conditions that forced a waveoff of the Shuttle's return yesterday.
Atlantis has two opportunities today for a landing at the Kennedy Space Center. The first, on orbit 185, calls for a firing of Atlantis' braking rockets at 11:21 a.m. Central time with a landing on KSC's Shuttle runway 3-3 at 12:27 p.m. Central time. Atlantis' cargo bay doors would be closed at around 8:40 a.m. this morning in preparation for that first landing opportunity. A backup opportunity is also available on the following orbit, with a deorbit firing of the orbital maneuvering system engines at 12:57 p.m. Central time and a landing at 2:03 p.m. Central time. There are also two landing opportunities on the following orbits at the backup landing site for Atlantis at California's Edwards Air Force Base, which was activated for landing support. But gusty winds, low clouds and the chance of rain showers both today and tomorrow make Edwards a highly unlikely possibility for flight controllers to consider.
Entry Flight Director LeRoy Cain will receive weather updates throughout the day from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group here at the Johnson Space Center and Chief Astronaut Charlie Precourt, who will be flying weather reconnaissance at the landing strip in a training jet modified to mimic the Shuttle's landing characteristics. A final "go-no go" decision for the deorbit burn for the first landing opportunity is expected around 11 a.m. Central time.
Commander Ken Cockrell, Pilot Mark Polansky and Mission Specialists Bob Curbeam, Marsha Ivins and Tom Jones were awakened just after 4 a.m. Central time today to prepare once again for landing.
At the time of crew wakeup on board Atlantis, the Shuttle was about 750 statute miles in front of the International Space Station. The Expedition One crewmembers, Commander Bill Shepherd, Pilot Yuri Gidzenko and Flight Engineer Sergei Krikalev, are enjoying a final day of light duty in their extended weekend before beginning their work week on Tuesday. That work will include preparations for the undocking, flyaround and redocking of their Soyuz capsule from the aft docking port of the Zvezda module to the nadir docking port of the Zarya module, clearing the way for the arrival of an unmanned Russian Progress resupply ship at the end of the month. The Soyuz relocation procedure is planned for early Saturday morning, U.S. time.
Atlantis continues to orbit the Earth in flawless fashion at an altitude of 235 statute miles. The Johnson Space Center newsroom is open through landing or throughout the day in the event of another landing postponement. The next mission status report will be issued following landing, or as mission events warrant.
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