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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Weather Causes Discovery to Delay Landing

Aired August 9, 2005 - 04:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Miles O'Brien, reporting live from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the space shuttle is not going to be anytime soon.
Weather once again delaying its arrival. There had been an anticipated touchdown possibility a little after 5:00 in the morning Eastern time. But weather here at the Kennedy Space Center not looking so good.

While it is clear right here at the field where I am, there are a series of cells and thunderstorms that are developing off-shore right now, and that has made mission managers in Houston nervous enough to wave off this first opportunity.

The next chance for a landing here at the Kennedy Space Center for Discovery, the end of this two-week return-to-flight mission, is 6:43 a.m. Eastern time. Unclear how the weather looks for that particular opportunity, as well.

Let's go to Chad Myers now in the Weather Center who's been watching this very closely for us. Chad, are things improving here?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, yes and no, Miles. The good news about today is that it's a little bit more black and white. Yesterday, there was just a lot of gray. Today, they are literally looking at thunderstorms, looking at the cells, looking at the distance.

Here's Cape Canaveral right here, Kennedy Space Center. The showers are mainly offshore. But if I zoom in to the area right here, right into the landing zone through here, and we measure out how far they are, they're about 30 miles away. And that's OK.

But notice, under this circle, there's another -- what I think to be another shower developing not that far from Titusville. You can begin to see under the L's here, a few more colors popping up.

Sometimes some of this is just ground clutter, fog around the ground. But when you get to be level-two and level-three radar, I really do believe that that's probably another shower popping up. And that's within five miles of the site. So that's just not going to work.

The showers and clouds popped up yesterday, obviously, not like the ones we had two days ago. There were just a few showers across Florida yesterday, Kennedy Space Center right there. But there are just enough to get in the way this morning so far -- Miles? M. O'BRIEN: And once again, we should point out, Chad, that because the decision has to be made so far in advance, and a commitment to landing has to be made so far in advance, the weather forecasters are really challenged here. They have to make a decision a couple of hours before landing, and sort of anticipate, and really sort of...

MYERS: Part of the problem is, we can't fly the shuttle, they can't fly the shuttle at all through any rain whatsoever. Obviously, it's going to be very hot coming down, and that does way too much damage.

Miles, you're back.

M. O'BRIEN: All right, Chad, thank you very much. I appreciate that.

And, of course, the situation at Edwards Air Force Base, the backup facility, which is weighing heavily on mission managers' mind right now, is key. We're told it is CAVU there. That's an aviation term for "ceiling and visibility unlimited."

So one way or another, Discovery's coming home this morning. It looks very likely to be Edwards Air Force Base. 8:12 a.m. Eastern time would be that time. And, of course, whenever Discovery comes home, you'll see it live right here on CNN.

I'm Miles O'Brien, reporting live from Kennedy Space Center. Back with more programming in just a moment.

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