The Space Shuttle Endeavour is on course for a 4:35 p.m. CST landing today at the Kennedy Space Center, and Florida weather appears to be cooperating.
STS-89 Commander Terry Wilcutt, Pilot Joe Edwards, Payload Commander Bonnie Dunbar and Mission Specialists Mike Anderson, James Reilly, Salizan Sharipov and Dave Wolf awoke at 5:48 a.m. to the song "Breakfast Blues" by a Houston-area band called Trout Fishing in America, and immediately began final preparations for their return to Earth.
The astronauts will officially move into their deorbit preparations timeline at 11:30 a.m., close the cargo bay doors at about 12:50 p.m., get into their launch and entry suits shortly after 2 p.m. and strap into their seats about 2:30 p.m. Entry Flight Director John Shannon is expected to poll the flight control team for a final "go-no go" decision on the deorbit burn 20 minutes prior to the planned firing of Endeavour’s orbital maneuvering system engines at 3:28 p.m.
Forecasters for the Spaceflight Meteorology Group in Houston reported early this morning that the shuttle should land under clear skies today, but failing that will have equally favorable weather Sunday. Mission managers have elected to not call up support at Edwards Air Force Base in California today.
Endeavour is orbiting the Earth every 90 minutes at an altitude of about 240 statute miles with all of its systems working well.
Aboard Mir, Commander Anatoly Solovyev, Flight Engineer Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. Astronaut Andy Thomas are awaiting the arrival of a Soyuz TM-27 spacecraft carrying Mir 25 Commander Talgat Musabayev, Flight Engineer Nikolai Budarin and French researcher Leopold Eyharts. The Soyuz is scheduled to dock with the Russian outpost at 12:13 p.m. CST today. Hatch opening is scheduled for 1:43 p.m. Musabayev and Budarin will replace Solovyev and Vinogradov, who will return to Earth on Feb.19 with Eyharts. Thomas will spend the rest of his four-month research mission with Musabayev and Budarin, who will remain on Mir until August.
The next STS-89 status report will be issued post-landing, or at 6 a.m. CST today.
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