Low clouds kept shuttle Discovery and its crew of seven from making their much-anticipated return to Earth, and NASA vowed to bring the spacecraft down Tuesday in Florida, California or possibly even New Mexico, the Associated Press reported.
"We will attempt to land somewhere," flight director LeRoy Cain said after Monday morning's two unsuccessful landing opportunities.
The delay disappointed the astronauts' families, who were waiting at Kennedy Space Center for their loved ones' return after nearly two stressful weeks in orbit.
Discovery's astronauts woke up Monday evening to The Beatles "Good Day Sunshine" and were ready to get back home.
"It's a day for sunshine and it's a day for feet on the ground," Mission Control radioed the astronauts.
"We sure hope we get our feet on the ground today," astronaut Wendy Lawrence responded.
It is the first shuttle flight since Columbia's catastrophic re-entry in 2003, and the mission experienced a series of problems that required emergency spacewalk repairs and constant engineering analysis.
More cloudy weather was expected at Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday with a chance of rain, but it remained NASA's first choice for an early morning touchdown . Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert was the next choice, followed by the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, the absolute last resort.
Good conditions were expected at Edwards, while rain was in the forecast for White Sands.
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin insisted "there's no agony" associated with the one-day delay in getting Discovery home. Like other space agency officials, he was waiting for "wheels stop" on the runway before even thinking about celebrating.
Come Tuesday, "We're going to land one way or another, one place or another, and all we're talking about is where," Griffin said.
"It's better to be on the safe side," astronaut John Herrington observed from the runway. In fact, a thick, dark layer of clouds hovered overhead at the designated touchdown time.
catastrophic : extremely harmful; bringing physical or financial ruin（悲惨的，灾难的）
touchdown: a landing (as the wheels touch the landing field); especially of airplanes（着地，降落）