Following their departure from the International Space Station yesterday morning, Discovery’s seven astronauts will now spend a day stowing equipment and checking the Space Shuttle systems that support re-entry and landing in preparation for a return to Kennedy Space Center on Sunday afternoon.
STS-92 Mission Commander Brian Duffy along with Pilot Pam Melroy and Mission Specialists Leroy Chiao, Bill McArthur, Mike Lopez-Alegria, Jeff Wisoff and Koichi Wakata were awakened at 5:17 a.m. today to begin what should be their final full day in orbit. This morning’s wake-up song was “Saturday Night” by The Bay City Rollers played for the entire crew,
Later this morning Duffy, Melroy and McArthur will test the systems that will be used during the return home to Kennedy Space Center to ensure that equipment remains in good condition. Just after 9 a.m., they will test the flight control systems that maneuver the shuttle once it re-enters the atmosphere and begins to operate like an airplane. A little over one hour later, at 10:12 a.m., a test fire of all 44 thruster jets on Discovery will be performed to verify they are in good working order.
Shortly before the orbiter flight control system checks are started, Chiao and Wisoff will begin stowing the equipment used by the STS-92 crew over the last ten days. Throughout the day, all of the crew members will be involved with helping to stow away items in preparation for Sunday’s landing at KSC.
Discovery’s astronauts will conduct a crew news conference beginning at 2:17 p.m. today, discussing their mission with U.S. and Japanese media. The crew also will get some off duty time near the end of the day before beginning a planned eight hour sleep period at 9:17 p.m.
Discovery remains in excellent operating condition, as does the International Space Station, now more than 100 statute miles behind the Shuttle. For a touchdown in Florida at 1:14 p.m. CDT on Sunday, Discovery’s orbital maneuvering system engines would be fired to begin a descent at 12:07 p.m. A second opportunity also exists for a landing in Florida on the next orbit. The second opportunity would have the deorbit burn taking place at 1:43 p.m. and Discovery touching down on the 3-mile-long runway at KSC at 2:50 p.m.
The next mission status report will be issued at 6 p.m. or sooner as events warrant.
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