With Discovery 500 miles ahead of the International Space Station, and increasing that distance by more than 50 miles with each orbit of the Earth, the STS-105 and returning Expedition Two crewmembers are preparing for a Wednesday landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Discovery Commander Scott Horowitz, Pilot Rick Sturckow, and Mission Specialists Pat Forrester and Dan Barry, along with Expedition Two crewmembers Commander Yury Usachev, and Astronauts Jim Voss and Susan Helms, were awakened at 3:10 a.m. CDT to the sounds of “East Bound and Down” by Jerry Reed, at the request of their Houston-based training team.
Activities on board Discovery will focus on tomorrow’s planned return trip to Earth as the astronauts stow away the equipment and hardware used during their mission and verify the performance of Discovery’s landing systems. Horowitz, Sturckow and Barry will conduct the standard day-before-landing checkouts of the flight control surfaces, the rudder and flaps that will control the shuttle during its descent through the atmosphere.
Later in the day, they will set up three recumbent seats on Discovery’s middeck for use by the returning Expedition Two crewmembers during Wednesday’s re-entry. The seats are designed to minimize the forces of reentry after their more than five months in space.
Expedition Three crewmembers Frank Culbertson, Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin, were awakened about 12:30 a.m. to begin their first day alone aboard the space station. The day’s plan includes activation and checkout of Express Rack 4 – one of two scientific racks for the U.S. laboratory Destiny delivered during STS-105 – exercise and a review of plans for unloading the next Russian unpiloted cargo carrier, Progress 5, scheduled to arrive at the station Thursday morning.
Crewmembers also activated the current Progress vehicle, docked at the rear of the station’s Zvezda module, before closing the hatches that connect it to the station. Progress 4 is scheduled to be undocked from the station shortly after 1 a.m. Wednesday. The new Progress supply ship – Progress 5 – was launched on a Soyuz rocket at 4:24 a.m. today from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and is scheduled to dock at the station about 5 a.m. Thursday with its cargo of fuel, food and equipment.
Discovery is circling the Earth every 90 minutes at an average altitude of about 240 statute miles. Systems aboard the shuttle and the International Space Station are functioning well. The next mission status report will be issued about 6 p.m. today, or as events warrant.
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