On the 40th anniversary of the launching of the Sputnik satellite to start the Space Age, Atlantis’ astronauts are readying themselves and their vehicle for a return trip to Earth, with landing scheduled for 5:59 p.m. central time Sunday.
This morning, Commander Jim Wetherbee, Pilot Mike Bloomfield and Mission Specialist Scott Parazynski will perform the routine checks of Atlantis’ flight control systems and surfaces to ensure their vehicle is ready to support landing operations. Wetherbee and Bloomfield also will conduct a hot-fire test of the reaction control system jets.
Most of the crew’s day will be devoted to stowage activity as the astronauts configure Atlantis for reentry. The astronauts will ensure that all of the items transferred from Mir are properly secured in the Spacehab module and also will begin the process of stowing much of the hardware and equipment they have used over the past several days in orbit. In addition, Parazynski and Mission Specialist Vladimir Titov will put away the tools and the spacesuits they used during last Wednesday’s five-hour excursion outside the space station.
Wetherbee and Mission Specialist Jean-Loup Chretien will take a break from their activities today to talk with French reporters and schoolchildren in Paris at 2:34 p.m. central time. At the conclusion of that event, the entire STS-86 crew will talk with a four-member team living in an air-tight chamber at the Johnson Space Center. That team began a 90-day test of a regenerative life support system on September 19th, using a combination of physical, mechanical and biological methods to recycle their air and water.
The next STS-86 mission status report will be issued at 8 p.m. central time.
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