Washington : Inclement weather again Friday forced US space shuttle Atlantis, carrying Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams and six other crew, to put off its first landing attempt and instead try for a second one later.
Rain showers at Kennedy Space Center, Florida, forced flight controllers to postpone the first landing attempt slated for 2.16 p.m. (11.46 p.m. IST). On Thursday, bad weather had forced postponement of the landing.
The crew and the mission control team are focusing on the next orbit, which could be in Florida and at Edwards Air Force Base, California, US space agency NASA said on its website.
Kennedy is the primary site and the next landing opportunity is at 3.55 p.m. local time (around 1.25 a.m. IST).
If flight controllers select this option, Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot Lee Archambault will perform the deorbit engine burn at 2.50 p.m. to begin the descent to Florida. The Edwards landing opportunity is at 3.49 p.m., with the deorbit occurring at 2.43 p.m.
Flight controllers and forecasters with the Spaceflight Meteorology Group continue to monitor the weather at both landing facilities. Two more opportunities – 5.23 p.m. and 6.59 p.m. — are available Friday at Edwards.
Landing will bring to an end a successful construction mission to the International Space Station.
Atlantis launched June 8 and arrived at the station on June 10.
If Atlantis had landed on Thursday, Sunita Williams would have logged 193 days, 16 hours and 8 minutes. She has not only set an endurance record for the longest space flight by a woman during her very first space journey, but with four excursions spread over 29 hours and 17 minutes also broke one for most space walks by a woman.
Atlantis also delivered a new station crew member, Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson. He replaced Williams.