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Weather delays Columbia landing by 1 day

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December 5, 1996
Web posted at: 9:00 a.m. EST

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (CNN) -- The landing of the space shuttle Columbia has been postponed by one day, until Friday, due to poor weather Thursday at landing sites in Florida and California. Columbia is now scheduled to land at 8:01 a.m. EST Friday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

After weather conditions in Florida caused Mission Control to rule out a Thursday landing there, it had considered changing the landing to Edwards Air Force Base in California -- but conditions were no better there.

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The earlier decision to try to bring the shuttle down Thursday had been made after one of the orbiter's three key navigation tools -- an inertial measurement unit -- stopped working. That glitch followed last weekend's jammed airlock hatch that forced NASA to cancel a pair of spacewalks.

NASA engineers have been stumped by the hatch problem, the first such hatch problem in the shuttle program's 15-year history.

Although safety rules ordinarily would force a shuttle with a navigation problem to cut short its mission immediately, Columbia is equipped with two back-up units, NASA said.


Forecasters were optimistic that weather conditions Friday in Florida would allow the shuttle to land. Weather conditions at the alternate landing site in California were worsening.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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