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Discovery Prepares for Another Landing Try

Mission specialists Patrick Forrester (left) and Tim Kopra work on the flight deck of space shuttle Discovery. Credit: NASA
NASA
Last updated at 4:51 p.m. Eastern

Space shuttle Discovery is headed for California.

Mission Control ordered Discovery and its seven astronauts to aim for a Friday evening touchdown at Edwards Air Force Base, after bad weather prevented them from returning to Florida for the second day in a row.

Edwards is NASA's backup landing site. The space agency prefers Florida landings because the cross-country ferry trip costs $1.7 million and take more than a week.

Stormy weather made it too risky to bring Discovery back to its home port Thursday, and conditions were even worse Friday. So flight director Richard Jones opted for the sunny skies of the Mojave Desert.

The delivery trip to the international space station has spanned 14 days and 5.7 million miles.

The two chances for landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert, are at 8:53 p.m. and 10:28 p.m., reports CBS News space analyst Bill Harwood.

Yesterday showers and thunderstorms within 30 nautical miles of the Kennedy Space Center runway scuttled the landing attempts. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group at the Johnson Space Center in Houston is predicting more of the same, if not worse, today with scattered clouds at 3,000 and 8,000 feet, a broken deck at 25,000 feet, winds from 130 degrees gusting to 12 knots and thunderstorms within the no-rain zone.

CBS News space analyst Bill Harwood's "Space Place" updates
Space Shuttle Main Page (NASA)

Discovery has enough on-board supplies to remain in orbit through Sunday, but NASA does not schedule landings on the final day in case of a technical problem or bad weather.

The astronauts were awakened at 9:30 a.m. today by a recording of Aaron Tippin's "Big Boy Toys" radioed up for commander Frederick "C.J." Sturckow.

"Good morning, Houston," Sturckow called down. "It's another great day in space and we hope the weather works out and we can get to land the space shuttle Discovery today."