Discovery's seven astronauts tested reaction control system thrusters that will properly orient the spacecraft as it begins its descent toward a landing scheduled for 1:14 p.m. CDT Sunday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They also tested flight surface controls that will be used to fly the orbiter like an airplane once it enters the atmosphere.
STS-92 Mission Commander Brian Duffy, Pilot Pam Melroy and Mission Specialists Leroy Chiao, Bill McArthur, Mike Lopez-Alegria, Jeff Wisoff and Koichi Wakata spent much of the day converting Discovery from an orbiting spacecraft to a re-entry vehicle. They took time out from the testing and stowage activity during their last full day in orbit for a 25-minute news conference with U.S. reporters at Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Center, and then spent 20 minutes talking with Japanese reporters at Johnson Space Center on Saturday afternoon.
The crew also took some time off near the end of their day before beginning an eight hour sleep period at 9:17 p.m.
Discovery has two landing opportunities Sunday at Kennedy Space Center's 3-mile-long runway. The first, on Discovery's orbit 169, would see a deorbit burn at 12:07 p.m. CDT for the 1:14 p.m. landing. Discovery's track would take it northeastward across the eastern Pacific Ocean, across Nicaragua and Honduras, over western Cuba and up the Florida Peninsula to the landing site.
The second opportunity is on the subsequent orbit. It would see a deorbit burn at 1:43 p.m. with a landing at 2:50 p.m. That ground track would take Discover across Mexico's Pacific Coast and across the northwestern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, across the eastern Gulf of Mexico and across Florida to Kennedy Space Center.
Forecasters are looking carefully at Sunday weather at the Cape. The main concern is over the possibility of crosswinds gusting too fast over Runway 15.
Discovery continues to function well, as does the International Space Station from which it undocked Friday morning. Discovery is about 160 statute miles ahead of the station and increasing that distance by just over 6 miles each 90-minute orbit.
The next mission status report will be issued at 6 a.m. or sooner if events warrant.
Note to Editors: The JSC newsroom will be closed during the STS-92 crew's sleep period for the remainder of the flight. The newsroom will open for business beginning at 5 a.m. CDT each day.
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