Bad weather has delayed the return to earth of the space shuttle Atlantis. Its work completed on the Hubble space telescope, the shuttle was expected to touch down at Cape Canaveral at 1400 gmt, but that has now been put back.
Although Wednesday’s storms over Cape Canaveral have cleared, the forecast is for clouds and drizzle throughout the day. There is a back-up landing opportunity at 1539 gmt, but the bad weather may last several days. If necessary, NASA may direct the shuttle to Edwards Air Force base in California. Atlantis has enough fuel and supplies to stay in space until Monday, but NASA has told the crew to be ready to leave orbit if conditions improve.
For safety reasons, the weather must meet several conditions: cloud cover must be no more than 50 percent, visibility at least 8 kilometres, and winds no more than 28 kph. There must also be no rain within a 50 kilometre radius.
Bad weather delays shuttle's return