With one day of science operations remaining, the astronauts on board Columbia and flight controllers in Mission Control began to focus their attention on preparations for Thursday morning’s planned entry and landing.
On board Columbia, some of the materials processing experiments already have completed their full mission run and were being powered down. This morning, red team members relocated the ASTRO-PGBA experiment hardware from its temporary working location in the laboratory module back to its designated position in the orbiter's middeck. The hardware is firmly secured in its locker space, and a fastener broken when the experiment was first moved to Spacelab, will have no effect on its stability for entry.
The Mission Management Team meeting Tuesday morning reviewed weather predictions for landing opportunities on Thursday and Friday. The outlook is generally good at both the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Edwards Air Force Base in California for the next few days. With the possibility of ground fog early in the morning at KSC, flight controllers could elect to bypass the first landing opportunity at 5:47 a.m. CDT in favor of a landing one orbit later at 7:22 a.m. Edwards Air Force Base in California will not be called up for landing support on Thursday since the long-term weather outlook for Florida is good and Columbia’s systems remain healthy.
In other activities today, all seven crew members participated in a general press conference with reporters at NASA Centers in Texas, Florida and Alabama. Also today, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and Sen. William Frist of Tennessee made a congratulatory phone call talking with the three blue team members, Payload Commander Janice Voss, Mission Specialist Mike Gernhardt and Payload Specialist Roger Crouch.
All of Columbia’s systems remain in good condition with no significant issues being worked by the flight control team. The spacecraft is in a slightly elliptical orbit of 180 x 187 statute miles altitude.
The next orbiter status report will be issued at approximately 6 a.m. CDT Wednesday.
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