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Atlantis preparing to land at Edwards, California

Rain showers in the vicinity of the Kennedy Space Centre is the reason for the wave off of the landing attempts there as mission managers shifted the landing to California.

world Updated: Jun 23, 2007 01:24 IST

Space shuttle Atlantis, carrying Indian-American astronaut Sunita Williams, was on Saturday making attempts to land at Edwards Air Force Base, California after bad weather forced NASA to cancel landing in Florida.

Rain showers in the vicinity of the Kennedy Space Centre was the reason for the wave off of the landing attempts there as mission managers shifted the landing to California.

After the first landing attempt at Kennedy was skipped due to persistent bad weather, two astronauts took to the skies in modified business jets to monitor weather conditions for both Kennedy and Edwards landings.

The astronaut monitoring the Edwards site can relay to Atlantis updates on the weather conditions there.

Atlantis Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot Lee Archambault are scheduled to perform the deorbit engine burn at 0013 IST to begin the descent for a 0119 IST landing at Edwards.

Rain showers were the reason for the wave off of the first landing attempt at Kennedy.

Flight controllers and forecasters with the Spaceflight Meteorology Group continue to monitor the weather at both landing facilities.

Two more opportunities 0253 IST and 0429 IST -- are available for landing at Edwards.

Fifty space shuttle missions have landed at Edwards Air Force Base, the most recent one being the touchdown of Discovery in 2005.

The landing will bring to an end a successful construction mission to the International Space Station.

Launched on June eight, Atlantis arrived at the station on June 10.

While at the orbital outpost, the crew installed the Starboard 3 and 4 truss segment and conducted four spacewalks to activate it.

During the third spacewalk, the crew repaired an out of position thermal blanket on the left orbital maneuvering system pod.

Atlantis also delivered a new station crew member, Flight Engineer Clayton Anderson.

He replaced astronaut Williams, who is the new record holder for a long-duration single spaceflight for a woman.

Williams is returning home after a record breaking 195-day space odyssey by a woman. She had set off from Cape Canaveral in December nine last year on space shuttle Discovery for what was to become the longest space journey by a woman.

Williams crossed the new milestone on Saturday last surpassing the 188-day, four-hour mark set by US astronaut Shannon Lucid in 1996 on a mission to the Russian Mir space station.

Although it is only her first space flight, Williams became the world's most experienced woman walker in space on February four with four excursions clocking over 29 hours and 17 minutes to top Kathy Thornton's 21-hour space walking record.

During her stay at the space station, Williams has worked with experiments across a wide variety of fields, including human life sciences, physical sciences and Earth observation as well as education and technology demonstrations.

Some of these experiments give scientists critical insight into the effects of weightlessness on human bodies while others show ways to prevent effects already known about like muscle and bone loss.

In addition to rigorous exercise, Williams also collected and stored her blood while in space to add to an ongoing study on nutrition, another key element of living in space for long stretches of time.

The results of this study may impact nutritional requirements and food systems developed for future ventures in space.

First Published: Jun 23, 2007 00:59 IST