Weather could postpone shuttle's return to earth

Shuttle Discovery’s astronauts are scheduled to land this evening to wrap up their successful space station delivery mission, but late summer storms threatened to keep them up an extra day or two.

Mission Control said “the weather will pose a challenge” for bringing Discovery home.

The forecast said there was a chance of thunderstorms. Conditions were expected to worsen tomorrow and remain poor on Saturday.

“The weather in Florida this time of year is always a little iffy,” Discovery’s commander, Rick Sturckow, said from orbit.

“If things aren’t good, the worst that can come out of it is that we have another day in space, which is a great deal.”

In orbit since August 29, Discovery has enough supplies to last until Sunday.

If the shuttle cannot return to Florida today, Nasa will consider landing it in California, but not until tomorrow at the earliest.

One of the shuttle passengers, Buzz Lightyear, has spent 15 months aboard the space station.

The 12-inch action figure rocketed into “infinity and beyond” aboard Discovery in May 2008.

Once Walt Disney World gets the toy back, it will be feted at a ticker tape parade early next month with Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon.

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