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Discovery dodges space debris; landing delayed

The next landing attempt for the spacecraft is scheduled for Friday. Image Credit: NASA

HOUSTON (AFP/PTI): Thunderstorms and high winds forced NASA to abandon a first attempt to land space shuttle Discovery, which earlier dodged debris as it prepared for a high-speed descent to Earth.

“We will wave off this attempt,” Eric Boe, mission control's shuttle communicator, told astronauts seeking to return home at the end of a 13-day mission to the International Space Station.

A second attempt to land Discovery at the Kennedy Space Centre, near Orlando in Florida, is scheduled for 0605 IST Friday, although NASA said conditions were not expected to improve in time.

Further bids to bring Discovery home are pencilled in for later on Friday and Edwards Air Force Base in California is ready to become an alternative landing site if required, the US space agency said.

Favourable conditions at Edwards on Friday were forecast to worsen on Saturday due to winds kicked up by Hurricane Linda in the Pacific Ocean. The shuttle is equipped with enough provisions to remain in orbit through Sunday.

The crew earlier carried out a 14-second evasive manoeuvre to prevent Discovery from hitting a piece of debris that had apparently drifted away from the shuttle during a spacewalk Saturday, mission control said.

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