|Carried by a jumbo jet, shuttle Atlantis took off its return trip to Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday. |
More than a week after landing, U.S. space shuttle Atlantis began its trip from California back to Florida, NASA reported on Sunday.
"Piggy-backed" on top of a modified 747 jetliner, Atlantis left Edwards Air Force Base, California, at 9:04 a.m. EDT (1304 GMT) Sunday morning, making its cross-country ferry flight back to Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
The enroute plan includes refueling stops and a stop overnight in Nebraska. The anticipated arrival at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida will be no earlier than Monday with a possibility of arriving Tuesday if weather conditions are not favorable for a Monday landing, according to NASA official website.
Atlantis landed at Edwards on June 22 concluding a successful assembly mission to the International Space Station. Unfavorable weather at its Florida landing site forced it to divert to its alternate landing site in Califorina.
NASA prefers to land shuttles in Florida to avoid the cost of transporting them back on a long-distance flight, which needs an estimated 1.7 million U.S. dollars.