UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!



Weather Threatens Planned Return of US Space Shuttle

21 June 2007

The crew of the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis is preparing for its first attempt at landing Thursday in the southeastern U.S. state of Florida, but thunderstorms could delay the touchdown.

The shuttle will have two opportunities to land at Kennedy Space Center, the first just before 2:00 p.m. local time, and the second less than two hours later. But weather experts are forecasting thunderstorms and low clouds for the area, which could delay the shuttle's landing until Friday.

If the Kennedy Center landing is delayed, officials at the U.S. space agency NASA could decide to land the shuttle Friday at a backup site, in the West Coast state of California.

Atlantis has enough supplies to stay in space until Sunday.

NASA engineers cleared the shuttle to land on Thursday after an in-flight inspection determined a thermal blanket near the shuttle's tail section could withstand the intense heat of re-entering Earth's atmosphere.

The blanket was damaged on takeoff and later repaired during a spacewalk.

During its 13-day mission, the Atlantis crew conducted four spacewalks to install a new solar panel array on the International Space Station. It also delivered U.S. astronaut Clayton Anderson as the newest member of the orbital outpost's permanent crew.

Anderson replaces Sunita Williams, who spent six months aboard the space station. She set the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman during her mission.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list