Weather Thwarts Shuttle Landing - InformationWeek

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Weather Thwarts Shuttle Landing

NASA will undertake a second attempt to bring Discovery home to Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday.

Rain and clouds over Florida's Atlantic coast forced NASA officials to wave off the space shuttle's scheduled landing early Monday.

"An unexpected cloud ceiling settled over the Kennedy Space Center area preventing space shuttle Discovery's first landing opportunity," NASA said in a statement. The space agency said the shuttle would make a second landing attempt early Tuesday.

The shuttle was scheduled to arrive at Kennedy from the west via a route that takes it over the northern parts of the Pacific Ocean and across much of North America.

The shuttle has wrapped up a 14-day mission that saw its crew perform a range of maintenance tasks at the International Space Station. Discovery atronauts last week successfully delivered a container holding eight tons of cargo to the ISS.

Mission specialists Stephanie Wilson and Naoko Yamazaki used the ISS's robotic arm to attach the Leonardo Multi-Purpose Logistics Module to the Earth-facing side of the station's Harmony node.

The module contains science racks for use in the various labs throughout the station, new sleeping quarters and other supplies. The reusable module will become a permanent part of the space station following the next shuttle mission.

Discovery safely docked with the ISS despite the loss of a radar system designed to assist with the maneuver.

The shuttle's Integrated Radar and Communications System, or "Ku band" radar, experienced what NASA officials called an "anomaly" shortly after the spacecraft's liftoff from Kennedy on April 5.

The space agency, however, said shuttle crews are trained to dock with the ISS without the radar's help.

Shuttle Mission STS-131 is commanded by U.S. Navy Captain Alan Poindexter, 48, of Rockville, MD.

Three of the crewmembers—pilot Jim Dutton, mission specialist Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger, and mission specialist Yamakazi of the Japanese Space Agency—are making their first flights into space.

Only three more shuttle flights remain before the vehicles are retired at the end of this year and flights to the space station are turned over to private launch contractors.

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