Shuttle return may face rain delay after 2-week mission

NASA warned space shuttle Discovery’s astronauts Sunday to expect rain delays as they wrapped up their two-week mission and got ready to come home.

Discovery and its crew of seven were scheduled to land this morning at NASA’s Florida spaceport.

Shuttle commander Alan Poindexter said Sunday that he enjoys spending extra time in orbit and doesn’t mind if Discovery can’t make it back to Earth until Tuesday.

In the worst case, Discovery could always aim for the backup landing site in Southern California on Tuesday.

Poindexter and his crew are returning from the International Space Station after stockpiling it with supplies, science experiments and extra spare parts, including a tank full of ammonia coolant. It took three spacewalks to install the tank.

Providing Florida’s weather cooperates, Discovery will crisscross much of the United States during re-entry, zooming in from the Pacific Northwest. For safety reasons, NASA typically prefers to bring a space shuttle home from the southwest, up over the South Pacific, Central America and the Gulf of Mexico.


Condition of LBJ’s daughter improving at Mayo Clinic

Luci Baines Johnson, the youngest daughter of former President Lyndon B. Johnson, is making what her doctor calls “significant improvement” at the Mayo Clinic.

The 62-year-old was flown to the clinic by air ambulance Friday and is being treated in the neuro-intensive care unit for what doctors suspect is a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the nervous system and can cause paralysis.

Johnson’s doctor in Austin accompanied her to the clinic, and he said Sunday that she has made significant improvement in the past 24 hours. Dr. Dudley Youman said Johnson is expected to make a full recovery from Guillain-Barre syndrome.

He said she will remain in intensive care for a while but eventually return home for rehabilitation to strengthen her muscles.


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