Under a pall of storm clouds, NASA has canceled the landing of the space shuttle Atlantis, which was expected to touch down this morning, around 10 a.m. According to the New York Times, the shuttle will now have four chances to land on Saturday, either in Florida, at the Kennedy Space Center, or in California, at Edwards Air Force Base.
Back into orbit
The Atlantis is returning from a mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble, a space telescope which has spent 19 years in space. As the Monitor's Pete Spotts wrote on May 11, the mission was "long overdue":
It was canceled after the loss of the shuttle Columbia and its crew in 2003, only to be revived amid public pressure and after planners persuaded former NASA administrator Michael Griffin that the mission could be flown at an acceptable risk. The shuttle program could not afford to lose another orbiter and crew and still keep its international commitments to complete the space station.
By all accounts, things went swimmingly. Space.com today quotes astronaut John Grunsfeld, who has participated in three Hubble repair missions. "This is the last scheduled servicing mission of Hubble with the space shuttle," he said, "and what I think it's demonstrated is the extreme utility of having people working in space and accomplishing things that are different than what was expected."
I dream of electric pizza
The astronauts have enough supplies to last until Monday, NASA said. So what will they do up there with their extra time? Probably dream about the meals that await on planet Earth. In an interview with ABC, astronaut Mike Massimino expressed his love of pizza. Still, he said, "It is impossible in space; we don't have it, someone would get a Nobel Prize if they can figure out how to get pizza in space."
Paging Papa Ginos.