Shuttle Atlantis may change landing site in California

UPDATED: 16:11, June 22, 2007

The Space Shuttle Atlantis could shift its landing site to the Edwards Air Force Base north of Los Angeles on Friday due to bad weather, National Aeronautics and Space Administration(NASA) officials said on Thursday.

Atlantis was scheduled to land at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, but thick clouds blanketed the area and thunderstorms were in the forecast, prompting mission controllers to scrub the landing.

If the shuttle is diverted, it could land at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards at either 12:49 p.m., 2:17 p.m. or 3:53 p.m. Friday, according to NASA officials.

The shuttle would pass over the California coast near the Los Angeles area at about 75,000 feet. It will create a sonic boom, which would cone about 10 minutes prior to the landing, as it cruises toward the base, officials said.

Atlantis could still land in Florida if conditions permit. The shuttle will have two possible landing windows of opportunity at Kennedy -- 11:18 a.m. and 12:54 p.m. on Friday.

Atlantis has been in orbit since June 8, with crew members helping to install new equipment on the International Space Station.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---