The 10 astronauts and cosmonauts aboard Discovery and the International Space Station will spend another day docked to the orbiting science outpost to pack for the trip home. Discovery’s STS-102 mission now will end with a landing back in Florida about 1 a.m. Wednesday.
The crew was awakened to the song “She Blinded Me With Science” performed by Thomas Dolby and played in recognition of the laboratory outfitting and initial station scientific work enabled by Discovery’s flight. As the crew awoke, Mission Control informed Commander Jim Wetherbee of the mission’s extension.
Discovery will now spend almost nine days docked to the station, allowing ground controllers and the crew more time to ensure all necessary items are stowed away correctly aboard the Leonardo cargo module. Leonardo, filled with equipment to return to Earth, now will be detached from the station and latched back in Discovery’s payload bay early Sunday morning, a day later than originally planned. Discovery will undock from the station late Sunday night, spend Monday checking landing equipment, and return to Earth about midnight Tuesday. Discovery is planned to fire its deorbit engines at 10:55 p.m. Tuesday, descending to a touchdown at the Kennedy Space Center, at 11:59 p.m.
The crews will spend today continuing to pack items aboard the Leonardo logistics module for return to Earth. In addition, all crewmembers will participate in a press conference from the Destiny laboratory at 2:39 a.m., fielding questions from reporters at NASA centers across the United States and at the Russian control center outside Moscow.
Later, Wetherbee will initiate a second hour-long gentle reboost of the station, using the shuttle’s small steering jets to raise the complex’s altitude by several miles. A third reboost session may be performed before Discovery departs the station.
Discovery and the International Space Station are in excellent condition as they circle the Earth once every 92 minutes. The next Mission Control Center status report will be issued Friday morning.
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