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Bad Weather Delays Shuttle Landing 24 Hours


8 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Bad weather at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida has forced a 24-hour delay in the landing of the U.S. space shuttle "Discovery."

The shuttle was due back on Earth early this morning, Florida time. NASA initially ordered a 90-minute landing delay as low clouds moved into the area. Mission control then announced a further 24-hour postponement after the local weather failed to improve.

This was NASA mission controller Ken Ham explaining the decision in a radio transmission to the shuttle crew:

"We just can't get comfortable with the stability of the [weather] situation for this particular opportunity, so we are going to officially wave you off for 24 hours."

The new landing time for the seven astronauts has been set for 5:08 a.m. local time on 9 August.

This flight to the International Space Station may be the last one for some time. NASA grounded the shuttle fleet after a piece of insulating foam broke off the shuttle's external fuel tank during the 26 July liftoff. The same problem led to broken heat tiles that doomed the space shuttle "Columbia" in February 2003.

The problem was supposed to have been corrected.

(Reuters/AFP/AP)
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