Atlantis’ crew is preparing for a possible homecoming today, with landing opportunities at both the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Edwards Air Force Base in California. Today’s landing attempts come after inclement weather prevented a landing on the two Florida opportunities yesterday.
Flight Director Linda Ham made the decision to extend Atlantis’ mission for 24 hours following forecasts of broken clouds and extensive cloud coverage over the 3-mile long landing strip at KSC.
There are four landing opportunities today, two to KSC and two to Edwards on consecutive orbits. The first landing opportunity at KSC would call for a deorbit burn at about 3:48 p.m. Central time with a landing about 4:55 p.m. A preliminary look at today’s weather at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida indicates the possibility of continued low cloud coverage and cross-winds at or near acceptable limits. Initial weather forecasts for Edwards indicates predicted high winds for both landing opportunities there.
Working with flight controllers on the ground, the crew will begin its formal deorbit preparations just before noon central time today, with closure of Atlantis’ payload bay doors targeted about 1 p.m.
With a landing today, Astronaut Mike Foale will have accumulated 145 days in space, 134 of those as a Mir crew member.
The next STS-86 status report will be issued following either Atlantis’ landing or a wave-off of landing opportunities.
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