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Atlantis landing postponed to Friday

world Updated: Jun 22, 2007 04:51 IST

IANS
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Bad weather forced the Atlantis space shuttle, carrying Indian American astronaut Sunita Williams and six other crew, to postpone its landing to Friday, the NASA said on Thursday.

Heavy clouds, rain and thunderstorms had earlier forced the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to postpone the landing of the Atlantis space shuttle twice on Thursday.

The inclement weather forced the shuttle, scheduled initially to land at 1755 GMT (11.25 pm India time), to try to land at 1930 GMT (1 am India time).

However, the crew will now get an extra day in space thanks to poor weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center. The shuttle has four landing opportunities available on Friday, with the first at 2:16 pm local time in Florida, NASA said on its website.

Controllers would closely monitor forecasts for Friday in Florida and at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

If Florida weather does not cooperate, two landing opportunities are available at Edwards. Opportunities are also available Saturday.

Atlantis launched June 8 and arrived at the International Space Station on June 10.

Atlantis also delivered a new station crew member, Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson. He replaced astronaut Suni Williams, who is the new record holder for a long-duration single spaceflight for a woman. She arrived at the station in December.

Atlantis undocked from the ISS on Tuesday after conducting four space walks to install a new solar panel to the station and repair a damaged heat blanket on the shuttle.

During the Atlantis mission, a failure of the station's Russian navigation computers was blamed on the connection of the new electricity-generating solar panels. After several days of unease, astronauts repaired the computers, which are vital to controlling the pitch and altitude of the space station.