Weather, Technical Glitch Delay Discovery's Return to Florida Spaceport

Weather, Technical Glitch Delay Discovery's Return to Florida Spaceport
Lightning strikes in the distance as the Space Shuttle Discovery receives post-flight processing in the Mate-Demate Device (MDD), following its landing at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California. (Image credit: Tom Tschida/NASA.)

CAPE CANAVERAL - ShuttleDiscovery's flight home is delayed again, now set for takeoff from Californiaon Friday at earliest.

NASA says Discovery's precise departure time and arrival time here in Floridaremain in flux.

Efforts to install the tail cone that protects the shuttle's main enginesduring the ferry flight home slowed the preparation work.

It's impossible to predict what refueling and overnight stops or changes in theflight path will be made necessary by weather.

The cross-country flight could end here Saturday afternoon, at the earliest,with a planned fly-over of Brevard's beaches.

Earlier this week, the work on Discovery has been delayed by extreme weather inthe California desert.

Hail, winds and thunderstorms ravaged the area earlier this week, stopping workat one point.

The ship sits outside, exposed to the elements, while being prepped for matingto its modified 747 ferry.

NASA says water got inside a small part of the shuttle cargo bay, but thedamage is not serious.

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Director of Data Journalism, ABC TV stations

John Kelly is the director of data journalism for ABC-owned TV stations at Walt Disney Television. An investigative reporter and data journalist, John covered space exploration, NASA and aerospace as a reporter for Florida Today for 11 years, four of those on the Space Reporter beat. John earned a journalism degree from the University of Kentucky and wrote for the Shelbyville News and Associated Press before joining Florida Today's space team. In 2013, John joined the data investigation team at USA Today and became director of data journalism there in 2018 before joining Disney in 2019. John is a two-time winner of the Edward R. Murrow award in 2020 and 2021, won a Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2020 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting in 2017. You can follow John on Twitter.