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  • Discovery to Land Monday, Though Rain Showers Possible
    Posted by Mark Carreau 10:13 AM on Apr 18, 2010

    Discovery's astronauts checked out the shuttle's propulsion and flight control systems on Sunday as they prepared to descend to Earth early Monday, with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the latest forecast includes a chance for rain showers.

    Shuttle commander Alan Poindexter and his six colleagues took standard power conservation measures in case their re-supply mission to the International Space Station is extended. The mission was lengthened by 24 hours to 14 days earlier to deal with a Ku antenna failure.

    Discovery has a pair of landing opportunities on Monday, at 8:48 a.m, EDT, and 10:23 a.m., EDT. Tuesday's forecast at Kennedy includes a chance of rain showers within 35 miles of the runway as well, a flight rule violation.

    Bryan Lunney, the NASA flight director who will supervise the high velocity descent from Mission Control, ruled out landing attempts at the shuttle's backup runway, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Monday. The Edwards forecast is favorable through Tuesday.

    "Big picture, the weather is not all that bad," Mission Control told the shuttle crew, after they completed checkouts of Discovery's auxiliary power unit and the reaction control system. There were no problems.

    With the power conservation measures, Discovery could orbit until Wednesday.

    The seven-member shuttle crew lifted off on April 5 with nearly eight tons of scientific equipment and other supplies for the space station.

    Two of the astronauts carried out three spacewalks for the successful installation of an ammonia coolant tank. The external coolant reservoir is a critical component of the station's thermal control system.

    With the shuttle program's retirement looming later this year, NASA is taking measures to stock the space station for operations now slated to extend until at least 2020.

    Tags: os99, Discovery, shuttle

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