Space Shuttle Atlantis Back in Florida

The space shuttle Atlantis is back at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida today, after riding across the country on top of a NASA jumbo jet. This comes as NASA continues getting ready for its next shuttle flight in August. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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Atlantis had to land at Edwards Air Force Base in California almost two weeks ago because of bad weather in Florida, and NASA spokesman Kyle Herring says the NASA 747 that ferried Atlantis to Florida had to take a somewhat roundabout way, again because of the weather.

"They don't do very well standing up against rain or any kind of moisture, and so we would have to fly around weather. And basically what we did on this ferry flight was dodge it, and we looked for the most clear weather path to get back to Florida."

The 747 refueled first in Amarillo and then flew north around the weather to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha Nebraska. It refueled again in Kentucky before flying the final leg to the Kennedy Space Center this morning. It landed even as KSC crews continue getting the shuttle Endeavour ready for launch in about two months.

"Endeavour now is vertical and mated to its external tank and solid rocket booster stack. Plan is to roll Endeavour to the launch pad next week, and ready it for that launch in early August."

The next mission will deliver another big piece of the space station. It will also be the first flight for Mission Specialist Barbara Morgan, the teacher-turned-astronaut whose association with NASA began in the 1980s, when she was the backup for Christa McAuliff, on the ill-fated shuttle Challenger. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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