Columbia crewmembers deactivated experiments and began stowing gear to prepare for their scheduled Saturday landing at the Kennedy Space Center.
Commander Rick Husband, Pilot Willie McCool, Mission Specialists Dave Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson and Laurel Clark, and Israeli Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon wrapped up final experiment runs, taking a final look at electrical activity above thunderstorms with the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX). They also shut down the Bioreactor Demonstration System where prostate cancer and bone cells were grown during much of the mission. Tonight the crew will deactivate the Spacehab Research Double Module in the cargo bay. The SPACEHAB will be closed for the final time early Saturday.
This morning, Husband, McCool and Chawla checked out the flight control surfaces of Columbia after activating one of the orbiter’s three auxiliary power units in a routine pre-landing test of the Shuttle’s systems. A little later, the crew test-fired the reaction control system jets that will regulate Columbia’s attitude as it begins its fiery re-entry through the Earth’s atmosphere. Opposing jets were fired simultaneously to avoid affecting the spacecraft’s orientation.
Two Kennedy Space Center landing opportunities are available to Columbia on Saturday. The first, on orbit 255, would see a deorbit burn at 7:15 a.m. CST and a landing at KSC at 8:16 a.m. to wrap up a flight of 6,649,757 statute miles. A second landing opportunity is available at KSC on the subsequent orbit. That would see the deorbit burn beginning at 8:50 a.m. and a landing at 9:50 a.m.
Florida weather is forecast to be excellent on Saturday. Columbia has enough consumables to remain aloft for several additional days, if necessary.
Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 6 crewmembers, Commander Ken Bowersox, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and NASA ISS Science Officer Don Pettit, completed loading the Russian Progress supply vehicle for a planned undocking from the Zvezda Service Module Saturday at 9:59 a.m. Central time (1559 GMT). A new Progress bringing fuel, equipment and supplies to the station will be launched from Kazakhstan Sunday and will dock with the station on Tuesday.
The next STS-107 status report will be issued after landing, or as events warrant.
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