Sunday, November 30, 2008

930a 11/30 Update: Entry delayed one orbit by Florida weather


Posted: 9:25 AM, 11/30/08

By William Harwood
CBS News Space Analyst

Changes and additions:

   SR-83 (11/30/08): Progress supply ship docks at space station after Lonchakov takes over manual control
   SR-84 (11/30/08): Endeavour astronauts gear up for landing; Florida weather forecast worsens
   SR-85 (11/30/08): Shuttle crew passes up first landing opportunity


9:25 AM, 11/30/08, Update: Shuttle crew passes up first landing opportunity

Entry Flight Director Bryan Lunney ordered the Endeavour astronauts to delay closing the shuttle's cargo bay doors and to pass up their first Florida landing opportunity today because of high crosswinds and a dismal forecast.

"Fergie, the weather observation and the forecast at KSC (Kennedy Space Center) is no-go for crosswinds," astronaut Alan Poindexter radioed from mission control. "Right now, we're getting crosswinds up to 19 knots. So we're going to wave off this opportunity."

"Hey, Houston, thanks for the early call," shuttle commander Christopher Ferguson replied.

The Spaceflight Meteorology Group at the Johnson Space Center in Houston is predicting winds out of 200 degrees with gusts up to 28 knots, a possible low ceiling, moderate turbulence below 10,000 feet and a chance of thunderstorms within 30 nautical miles of the runway.

Forecasters are not optimistic the weather will improve enough to permit the crew to land in Florida one orbit later, at 2:54 p.m. If not, and if the forecast for Monday does not improve, Lunney likely will order a second one-orbit wave off and tell the crew to head for Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert.

By delaying the closing of the shuttle's cargo bay doors, the crew can continue using radiators to dissipate heat and conserve the water that must be used for cooling after the doors are closed. That means both California landing opportunities should be available, the first at 4:25 p.m. EST and the second at 6 p.m.

A deorbit rocket firing to make the second Florida landing opportunity would take place at 1:49 p.m. A decision to either head for Florida or California is expected by around 1:45 at the latest but it could come earlier if the weather remains no-go.


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