Discovery first landing attempt delayed

The shuttle return is delayed because of rainy weather in Florida.

Houston Control told Commander Eileen Collins to forgo the first chance to land, which was scheduled for 5:07 a.m. local time at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, NASA said in its Web telecast. The next one comes about an hour and a half later and the crew has two chances each at two other sites in California and New Mexico.

Discovery, the first shuttle to launch since Columbia was destroyed on its return to Earth in February 2003, was originally scheduled to touch down at Kennedy yesterday morning. Low cloud cover around the space center, as well as the possibility of rain, forced officials to postpone it a day. Rain is forecast in the area today, NASA said this morning.

The shuttle payload bay doors were closed at about 1:20 a.m. to prepare for the first landing attempt when the craft was about 200 miles from Kennedy, mission controllers said earlier in the broadcast. A little over an hour later, a mission controller said there are showers forecast for the first landing slot.

The next chance to land is at 6:43 a.m. local time with engine firing due a little over an hour before that. Forecasters are predicting rain for that time as well, Mission Control said.

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