Space shuttle dodges debris on way home to Earth

Sep 10, 2009 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
This image provided by NASA shows Space Shuttle Discovery as seen from the International Space Station as the two spacecraft begin their relative separation Tuesday Sept. 8, 2009. Discovery's astronauts aimed for a Thursday evening landing to wrap up their successful space station delivery mission, but late summer storms threatened to keep them up an extra day or two. (AP Photo/NASA)

(AP) -- NASA has moved the shuttle Discovery out of the way of a mystery piece of orbiting junk and is hoping for a scheduled landing on Earth.

The fired shuttle thrusters around noon Thursday to avoid what Mission Control is calling a "mystery object."

Officials say the debris apparently came off the linked shuttle and during a spacewalk Saturday. Experts do not know what the piece is.

The shuttle is scheduled to land Thursday evening in Florida but thunderstorms could keep it in orbit an extra day or two.

If Discovery skips Florida on Thursday, NASA will consider the backup touchdown site in California as early as Friday.

Discovery delivered supplies and spent more than a week at the space station.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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User comments : 4

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RayCherry
5 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2009
What happens if they bring the shuttle down on water?

If landing on the strip is too risky due to the storms, can the shuttle float on water near the coast? Has this scenary ever be simulated?
earls
4 / 5 (1) Sep 10, 2009
That's a really good question, I can't seem to find anything, but I would have to think they've at least pondered the idea.

How is this for a "water landing?" :p

http://www.youtub...VU68NJiU

Large list of Emergency Landing Sites:

http://www.global...-els.htm
vivcollins
4.5 / 5 (2) Sep 10, 2009
She's a big heavy bird that lands at very high speed with a fragile skin, not some thing you want to try on water I would imagine
Adriab
not rated yet Sep 10, 2009
What happens if they bring the shuttle down on water?

I think I read that the shuttle was engineered to be able to withstand it, but it would do very unhappy things to the hull. Not something you want to do, especially at the speeds that most landings occur with the shuttle. Also, it'd sink just like most airplanes would, just faster.

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