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Shuttle Landing



Shuttle Landing Called Off for Second Day

By Brad Liston

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - For a second day Monday, the five
astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis were kept in orbit by bad
weather at their Kennedy Space Center (news - web sites) landing strip in
Florida.

As dark clouds marched up the Florida peninsula and 19-knot gusts swept the
shuttle's 3-mile-long landing strip, NASA (news - web sites) determined the
threat of rain and crosswinds would make a landing unsafe.

Although the weather is supposed to improve Tuesday, the space agency is
taking no chances, opening two additional landing strips in Edwards,
California and White Sands, New Mexico.

The shuttle has only enough cryogenic fuel to power it until Wednesday, but
NASA also has several other landing strips around the world that could be
activated in an emergency.

For the crew, the extra days meant more time looking out of windows as the
blue-white Earth scrolled beneath them and the stars hung above. Most
spacefarers count window time among their most memorable activities.

But the first order of business was to reconfigure the shuttle systems for
another day in space. Their work went so quickly that Mission Control called
up a ``Good job.''

``I'm afraid practice is making perfect,'' called down shuttle commander Ken
Cockrell.

High winds were also to blame Sunday, when Atlantis had been scheduled to
end a mission to the International Space Station (news - web sites) that saw
the five-astronauts deliver and install a $1.4 billion laboratory module.

Danger Of Crosswinds

Crosswinds, as opposed to tail or head winds, are considered especially
dangerous because the shuttle makes an unpowered landing like a glider, and
if it is blown off course, the commander does not get a second try.

This mission, now stretched to at least 13 days, featured a number of
landmarks for both the space station and the U.S. space program.

With its upscale price tag, the Destiny module was the most expensive
component of the international science project, which is expected to remain
under construction until 2006.

The 28-foot-long module increased living space on the station by more than
40 percent, making it the roomiest spacecraft ever to fly.

Destiny's computers allowed NASA to power up four 800-pound, solar-powered
gyroscopes that can now control the station's orientation -- its pitch, roll
and yaw in the vernacular of astronautics. They take over the job done by
jets using fuel that must be launched from Earth at a cost of tens of
thousands of dollars per pound.

Control of the station's motion also means a shift of command from the
Russian Space Agency to NASA. Russian ground controllers have mostly called
the shots since the first Russian-built component, the Zarya (news - web
sites) module, was launched in 1998.

This flight also featured the 100th U.S. spacewalk since astronaut Ed White
became the first American to float outside a spacecraft in 1965, about three
months after the Russians first accomplished the feat.

Spacewalks are critical to space-station construction, since most of the
data and utility connections linking new modules to existing ones run along
the outside walls.

As a result, 22 spacewalks are planned for 2001 alone, with at least 152
called for during the entire construction phase.

As NASA prepares to close the books on this shuttle mission, the work on
Destiny continues as the Expedition One station crew continues to work on
systems inside the module.

Expedition commander Bill Shepherd, an American, and his Russian crewmates
Yrui Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalyov have lived on the station since November.
A replacement crew is to arrive on the space shuttle Discovery in March.




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