The weather in Florida failed to improve for both landing opportunities at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) ensuring Atlantis will head to Edwards Air Force Base in California.
The decision to bring STS-117 to a conclusion today was made last night, with the only decision remaining relating to the landing site. Due to continuing poor weather in Florida, NASA decided to take the first Edwards opportunity.
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Article – pre decision – new article after landing:
As of right now, Atlantis has four remaining attempts to land, one at the KSC – the preferred landing option – and three at Edwards.
Overnight, work was being undertaken on seeing if White Sands could be added for a landing opportunity, but this remains likely to continue to be a Saturday option if the weather at both Edwards and KSC is unacceptable.
‘Both KSC and EDW will be called up today. GPS is looking good and the plan for today is to continue the rampup,’ noted L2 information. ‘We will target KSC for the first opportunity.
‘Hold in KSC and EDW for the second opportunity and then a decision will be made about an hour prior and to which site will be targeted.’
However, White Sands has been on and off on the internal loops – in regards to a sixth opportunity. The latest information points back to five attempts, that doesn’t include White Sands.
The latest weather forecasts remain negative for a landing at Florida, although every opportunity will be given for Atlantis to head back home to KSC.
Head astronaut Steve Lindsey will be making weather observations in a T-38 and STA (Shuttle Training Aircraft) ahead of deorbit burn decisions for both of the KSC landing opportunities.
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Information on Friday morning pointed to Edwards as the most likely landing site, with only opportunities on orbits 218 and 219 currently go. The third, orbit 220, is currently expected to be in violation of wind strengths. Both KSC opportunities are currently no go.
‘Weather update: 2 KSC attempts do not look promising. 2 out of the 3 Edwards attempts are GO,’ noted information this morning.
Atlantis is now on her longest ever mission, following yesterday’s wave off that kept her on orbit an extra day, breaking her STS-98 mission duration of 12.89 days.
The orbiter is performing well, with only a few issues – all of which have no impact on her performance. These included A pulled L4 circuit breaker on the cooling unit, thought to have affected the unit, but actually hadn’t – and a Brake Isolation Valve 2 indication anomaly – but ‘understood’ as part of the MDM OA2 Card 5 failure – early into the flight – no issue.
This article will be updated throughout the day.
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