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Discovery's Return Home Delayed



Ferry flight managers this morning decided not to make an attempt to 
bring Discovery back to Kennedy Space Center today and will remain at 
Barksdale AFB, La., through Saturday night. It was determined that 
weather en route across Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and potential 
weather issues early this afternoon at Kennedy would violate the 
vehicle's stringent flight weather criteria. Early Sunday morning, ferry 
flight managers will meet again and reassess the weather en route to the 
Space Center and establish the flight path. The current plan calls for 
the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft to depart Barksdale Sunday at about 7:25 
a.m. EDT and touchdown at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility in central 
Florida at about 10 a.m. EDT.

A "pathfinder" KC-135 aircraft flys about 100 miles ahead of the Shuttle 
Carrier Aircraft and monitors the weather in the flight path for the 
747's crew.
+ Discovery's Homecoming Photo Gallery 
+ Latest from Dryden 
<http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/home/index.html> | + Media Advisory 
+ Previous Ferry Flights From the Dryden Photo Gallery 
+ Landing Photo Gallery 
<http://www.nasa.gov/returntoflight/multimedia/landing_gallery.html> | + 
Archived Landing Coverage 

NASA announced yesterday that the next Space Shuttle mission, STS-121, 
is now targeted for March 2006. This will be the second test flight to 
the International Space Station in the Shuttle Return to Flight series. 
NASA Administrator Mike Griffin and Associate Administrator for Space 
Operations William Gerstenmaeir made the announcement at a briefing on 
August 18th.

"We are giving ourselves what we hope is plenty of time to evaluate 
where we are," said Administrator Griffin. "We don't see the tasks 
remaining before us being as difficult as the path behind us."
+ View Transcript (53 Kb PDF) 
| + Read Press Release 

A pair of "Tiger Teams" continues to investigate the External Tank foam 
loss during Discovery's launch on July 26. Gerstenmaier says the teams 
have identified the major areas of concern and are making good progress 
on dealing with the problems.

Discovery will be used for STS-121 instead of Atlantis, putting NASA in 
a better position for future missions to the Space Station. Atlantis 
will fly the following mission, STS-115, carrying Space Station truss 
segments which are too heavy to be carried by Discovery. By changing the 
lineup, the program won't have to fly back to back missions with 
Atlantis, as was previously scheduled.

*Media Resources:*
+ Final Report of the Return to Flight Task Group (4.9 MB PDF) 
Foam Loss Locations: + View as JPG 
<http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/125034main_ET_foam_loss.jpg> | + 
View as PDF <http://www.nasa.gov/pdf/125035main_ET_foam_loss.pdf>
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