Columbia landing postponed until Saturday
December 6, 1996
Web posted at: 9:30 a.m. EST
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida (CNN) -- NASA on Friday ordered
space shuttle Columbia to stay aloft yet another day as bad
weather prevented a landing for the second consecutive day.
The good news, NASA said, is that the 24-hour extension
means Columbia will set a shuttle endurance record -- with 18
days in space.
The shuttle had been scheduled to touch down at Kennedy Space
Center Thursday morning, and had been rescheduled for Friday,
but fog and low clouds blanketed the landing strip both days
-- forcing the cancellation.
"The fog is not burning off as we like it," ground
controller Curt Brown radioed to the shuttle crew shortly
before 8:30 a.m. EST Friday.
Flight controllers said they would make another landing
attempt Saturday, when weather was predicted to improve. The
five astronauts have enough fuel and supplies to remain in
orbit until Wednesday, NASA spokesman Ed Campion said.
NASA officials had contemplated moving the Friday landing to
Edwards Air Force Base in California. But weather conditions
there were also poor as low clouds and high winds were
The landing delays came toward the end of a flight
marked by two successful experiments, a jammed hatch that
caused cancellation of spacewalks and
other mechanical glitches. A Saturday landing would mean the
astronauts had been in orbit for 18 days, a space shuttle
endurance record. Columbia holds the record for the longest
shuttle flight to date set earlier this year, 16 days and 22
Reuters contributed to this report.
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