Space Shuttle Columbia’s Red Team, Commander Jim Halsell, Pilot Susan Still, Mission Specialist Don Thomas and Payload Specialist Greg Linteris, spent most of their day packing up experiments and wrapping up work on the materials science mission in anticipation of a landing tomorrow at the Kennedy Space Center.
By late afternoon, with investigations complete, virtually all experiment hardware was being deactivated. The Spacelab module itself is due to be buttoned-up at 10:47 p.m. CDT by Payload Commander Janice Voss. Once the laboratory module is deactivated, it will not be re-opened, even if tomorrow’s landing opportunities are bypassed. There are two landing opportunities to the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow.
Plans call for Columbia’s crew to begin deorbit preparations shortly before 1 a.m. CDT Thursday, closing the payload bay doors at 2:04 a.m. The astronauts will climb into their seats about 3:45 a.m. and wait for Mission Control’s "go/no-go" decision, which is expected at 4:24 a.m. for the first landing opportunity. The deorbit burn of Columbia’s orbital maneuvering system engines would follow at 4:44 a.m., with landing at the Kennedy Space Center at 5:47 a.m. CDT.
In the event conditions prohibit a landing on the first opportunity, the second landing opportunity would see a deorbit burn at 6:19 a.m. CDT with landing at KSC at 7:22 a.m. Mission managers have decided not to call up landing support at Edwards Air Force Base in California for either Thursday or Friday since the orbiter is healthy and weather conditions in Florida are predicted to remain favorable at least through Saturday. Columbia has enough cryogenic consumables on board to support landing attempts through Sunday.
Columbia’s crew is expected to remain in Florida until the day after landing, returning to Ellington Field in Houston for a mid-day public welcoming ceremony.
The next STS-94 mission status report will be issued following a landing or wave-off of Columbia on Thursday morning.
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