Discovery’s crew completed the major objective of their mission with the successful retrieval of the CRISTA-SPAS this morning.
While Commander Curt Brown flew Discovery to within 35 feet of the atmospheric research satellite, astronaut Jan Davis latched on to the free-flyer with the shuttle’s mechanical arm at 10:13 a.m. Central time. Released from Discovery on Aug. 7, the satellite had ranged as far as 60 miles from the shuttle while performing its atmospheric studies. Using the arm, Davis maneuvered the satellite back into Discovery’s cargo bay, latching it in place at about 11:30 a.m. for Monday’s trip back to Earth
The CRISTA-SPAS satellite studied the Earth’s atmosphere during its mission, measuring ozone levels while correlating its data with that collected from aircraft, instruments launched on small rockets, and data obtained from high altitude balloons. Scientists have reported receiving all of the data originally planned for the studies and more that will be analyzed in the coming months.
Prior to capturing the satellite, Brown flew Discovery in a precise practice approach to CRISTA-SPAS, imitating the approaches the Space Shuttle will use to dock with the future International Space Station. The practice session served as a successful flight test of the station’s planned approach procedures.
Discovery’s mission is scheduled to end Monday with landing scheduled at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at about 6:14 a.m. central time. Forecasters currently predict favorable weather for landing. Current plans are for flight controllers to target for only the single Florida landing opportunity on Monday and not consider opportunities for landing at Edwards Air Force Base, CA.
Discovery’s crew will begin a sleep period at 2:41 p.m. and awaken for the next-to-last day of the mission at 10:41 p.m. today.
The next scheduled shuttle status report will be issued at 7 a.m. Sunday.
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