Activities aboard Atlantis today focused on preparations for Friday’s planned landing at the Kennedy Space Center, concluding a voyage of 4.5 million miles.
Commander Jeff Ashby, Pilot Pam Melroy and Flight Engineer Sandy Magnus activated one of three hydraulic power units on Atlantis, tested all of the orbiter’s aerosurfaces, and then test-fired the steering jets. All of the systems are in good shape for reentry and landing. The remaining crew members – Dave Wolf, Piers Sellers and Fyodor Yurchikhin – continued packing up gear and hardware in anticipation of tomorrow’s landing.
Atlantis has two opportunities to land at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on Friday. The first begins with a deorbit burn of the Orbital Maneuvering System engines at 9:36 a.m., followed by a landing at 10:44 a.m. Central (11:44 a.m. Eastern.) In the event weather prevents a landing on that first opportunity, there is a second opportunity, beginning with a deorbit burn at 11:16 a.m. and resulting in a 12:21 p.m. Central (1:21 p.m. Eastern) landing in Florida.
Tomorrow’s weather forecast for the shuttle landing facility at KSC is favorable. The backup-landing site at California’s Edwards Air Force Base was not called up for support Friday. Atlantis has sufficient consumables to remain in orbit, if necessary, until Tuesday.
Atlantis’ crew will begin a scheduled eight-hour sleep period at 6:16 p.m. today, waking just after 2 a.m. Friday to prepare for a homecoming to the Kennedy Space Center. Actual deorbit preparations will get underway at 5:40 a.m. Atlantis’ payload bay doors are scheduled to be closed at 6:56 a.m. and the crewmembers will get into their seats at 8:36 a.m.
Meanwhile, aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition Five crew – Commander Valery Korzun, NASA ISS Science Officer Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Sergei Treschev – enjoyed a few hours of off-duty time today. Tomorrow they will turn their attention back to unpacking the Russian Progress resupply vehicle that arrived at the station in late September.
The next STS-112 status report will be issued Friday morning.
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