Houstan: NASA has decided to extend its final space shuttle mission by one day and provided a bonus day to its Astronauts aboard the shuttle Atlantis, agency officials announced.
Mission managers yesterday decided to add one day to the last flight of shuttle Atlantis, so as to give its four astronauts more time to unpack the enormous amount of cargo they are delivering to the International Space Station.
"There`s a lot of good work that we can help the space station program with ? if we had more time to give them, we probably would do that as well," LeRoy Cain, chair of Atlantis` mission management team told reporters yesterday.
Atlantis can stay in space an extra day because its power system has about a bonus day`s worth of supplies, officials said.
Atlantis hauled 4,318 kilograms of cargo into orbit, including supplies, spare parts and a year`s worth of food, when it launched from Florida on July 8.
These resources will help the station continue to operate through 2012, when NASA will no longer be able to rely on the space shuttles to carry hardware and supplies to the massive complex.
NASA is retiring its shuttle fleet after 30 years to make way for a new program aimed at deep space exploration, including crewed expeditions to an asteroid and Mars.
With addition of a day, Atlantis` is now flying 13-day mission to the International Space Station and will aim to return back to Earth and land at NASA`s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Fla at 3.26 am IST on July 21.