Will Remain In Kentucky Overnight
ANN REALTIME UPDATE 07.02.07 1430
EDT: One step closer to home... but still a bit further to
go. The space shuttle Atlantis took off this morning atop the
Shuttle Carrier Aircraft from Nebraska, for a refueling stop at
Fort Campbell, KY.
NASA reports once the SCA was at Fort Campbell, the ferry flight
crew received a weather briefing and a determination was made to
remain there overnight. Atlantis could arrive back at Florida's
Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday if weather conditions
Weather has been a bane in NASA's plans for Atlantis, since
the original launch was delayed in February after a hailstorm at
KSC, which forced the space agency to delay the launch
over three months in order to repair damage to the shuttle's
external fuel tank.
Those repairs were successful, and the shuttle launched without
a hitch June 8... only to see its return to Earth delayed due to
problems with Russian computer systems onboard the
International Space Station... and then, more meteorlogical
difficulties. Thunderstorms in Florida posed problems
for Atlantis' return to Earth, before NASA made the decision
to land the shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base in
Early Sunday morning, space shuttle Atlantis began its journey
back to Kennedy Space Center "piggy-backed" on top of a modified
Boeing 747 known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
The enroute plan included an early Sunday morning refueling
stop in Amarillo, TX -- a rare landing for the SCA on a commercial
runway, noted the Associated Press -- and a stop overnight at
Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, NE to check the connections
between the jumbo jet and the orbiter.
Crews are currently monitoring weather conditions between Offutt
and Florida, to determine if conditions will hold the aircraft in
Nebraska Monday. The anticipated arrival at the Kennedy Space
Center will be no earlier than then, with a possibility of arriving
at KSC Tuesday.
As ANN reported, Atlantis
landed at Edwards, concluding a successful assembly mission to the
International Space Station with Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot
Lee Archambault at the controls. Atlantis landed at 1549 pm EDT on
The STS-117 mission astronauts returned to Johnson Space Center
on Saturday, June 23. Their return was marked by a traditional
welcome home ceremony at Ellington Field in Houston.
The landing at AMA was a tribute of sorts for a fallen NASA
astronaut. Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport is named for
the commander of the final flight of the space shuttle Columbia.
Husband, along with six others, perished when the spacecraft
disintegrated during re-entry in February 2003.
(Photo courtesy of NASA/Carla Thomas)