On board Endeavour today, the crew will focus its efforts on checking out the systems and equipment that will be used during Endeavour’s planned reentry and landing Monday.
Endeavour is scheduled to return to the Kennedy Space Center about 11:55 a.m. CST tomorrow, weather permitting. Preliminary weather forecasts predict generally acceptable conditions at the landing site, with a chance of rain showers in the vicinity. Entry Flight Director Leroy Cain and his team of flight controllers will oversee the crew’s checkout of flight control systems and surfaces this morning from Mission Control. They also will receive updated weather forecasts for Monday’s planned landing.
On what should be their final full day in space, Endeavour’s crew – Commander Dom Gorie, Pilot Mark Kelly, Mission Specialists Linda Godwin and Dan Tani, along with the returning Expedition Three crewmembers Frank Culbertson, Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin – were awakened at 3:14 a.m. by the song “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” sung by Bing Crosby.
About 9 a.m. today, Endeavour’s crew will deploy a small satellite called STARSHINE 2 from a canister located in the payload bay. More than 30,000 students from 660 schools in 26 countries will track STARSHINE 2 as it orbits the Earth for eight months. The students, who helped polish STARSHINE’S 845 mirrors, will use the information they collect to calculate the density of the Earth's upper atmosphere.
Endeavour’s middeck will carry home the results of several experiments completed during Expedition Three’s stay on the station. These include the Advanced Protein Crystallization Facility, the Dynamically Controlled Protein Crystal Growth experiment and cells from the Cellular Biotechnology Operations Support System (CBOSS). The CBOSS equipment aboard the space station will remain active during Expedition Four, growing ovarian and colon cancer cells, as well as kidney cells in microgravity.
Experiments in Endeavour’s payload bay also will be coming home, to be returned to investigators around the world. The Multiple Application Customized Hitchhiker-1 (MACH-1) is carrying a wide array of experiments, including the Prototype Synchrotron Radiation Detector, the Collisions Into Dust Experiment-2, the Capillary Pump Loop, and the Space Experiment Module (SEM). The SEM is carrying experiments from Argentina, Portugal, Morocco and Australia, as well experiments from U.S. schoolchildren. Several other canisters in Endeavour’s payload bay are also carrying student experiments.
The next Mission Control status report will be issued about 6 p.m. CST today or as events warrant.
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