Discovery is ready for its conversion from spacecraft to airplane in preparation for tomorrow's planned landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with touchdown set for 6:14 a.m. Weather forecasters predict favorable conditions for the end of mission following 11 days in space.
Two small Orbital Maneuvering System burns are scheduled for about 7:15 and 8 a.m. to lower Discovery's altitude from 160 to 138 nautical miles in order to place the vehicle in the proper orbit for the desired trajectory needed for reentry and landing.
While Commander Curt Brown, Pilot Kent Rominger and Flight Engineer Bob Curbeam tested the orbiter's flight control systems to ensure they are in good shape to support reentry into Earth's atmosphere, Payload Commander Jan Davis and Mission Specialist Steve Robinson practiced techniques that will be used in the assembly of the International Space Station.
With the CRISTA-SPAS satellite's Earth atmospheric observations completed, the spacecraft became a simulator for the Functional Cargo Block - the first element of the ISS. Davis maneuvered the satellite into exact positions that will be seen on STS-88 for the FGB 's attachment to the U.S.-built Node 1 as part of the second assembly mission next year. Next, the satellite was maneuvered as elements will be on another station assembly flight to attach part of the ISS truss structure.
These tests provide in-flight verification of ISS assembly concepts while evaluating the usefulness of various visual cues for the crew. The Space Vision System, the robotic arm situational awareness displays and the automatic targeting computer vision system will assist crew members that may not always have the benefit of direct viewing of robotic arm operations during space station assembly tasks.
Canadian Payload Specialist Bjarni Tryggvason, today, finished his work with the Microgravity Vibration Isolation Mount. He is the sixth Canadian to fly on the space shuttle.
The crew was awakened at 10:45 last night to Lyle Lovett's "You're Not from Texas," to begin the final day of on orbit operations, including cleaning up the vehicle for the return home. One final sleep adjustment for the astronauts has them going to sleep at about two this afternoon and waking up just after 10 p.m. tonight to begin entry and landing preparations.
The next mission status report will be issued about 5 p.m.
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