NASA: Discovery crew spending another day in space

Bad weather extends Discovery's original 13-day mission to 15 days and counting

The space shuttle Discovery is now slated to touch down in Florida at 7:34 a.m. Eastern time tomorrow after bad weather forced officials to delay this morning's scheduled landing,

The postponement adds a second extra day to the mission, originally slated to end on Sunday after 13 days in space. The original schedule was extended to give the astronauts enough time to inspect the Discovery's heat shield.

NASA's Mission Control officials today waved the shuttle off of two possible de-orbiting maneuvers, concluding that low cloud coverage, fog and showers made a landing attempt at Kennedy Space Center in Florida too risky.

If weather also halts tomorrow's scheduled landing, NASA will turn to its backup plan of landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The shuttle, which delivered supplies and equipment to the International Space Station, undocked from the orbiter on Saturday morning. Immediately after undocking, the Discovery crew took photographs of the expanded space station complex, according to NASA.

Mission Control on Saturday also alerted the shuttle crew that their craft's heat shield had passed inspection and is fit for re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.

A malfunctioning Ku-Band antenna onboard the shuttle made it more difficult for the shuttle crew to send data and post-launch images of the heat shield to NASA crews on the ground for analysis.

During the shuttle's time at the station, its astronauts performed three spacewalks. Their tasks included replacing an ammonia tank that is part of the station's cooling system.

Various shuttle missions over the past year have been focusing on bringing new equipment, spare parts and supplies to the space station.

NASA is trying to ensure that the station is well stocked with supplies before the imminent retirement of the space shuttle fleet. The last shuttle flight is scheduled for September, though NASA's inspector general recently issued a report predicting that the final flight will be pushed back to sometime next year.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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