5 p.m. CST Saturday, Nov. 29, 2008
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-126 MCC Status Report #31
As Endeavour’s crew prepares for landing, mission managers are closely monitoring a cold front that could affect Sunday’s entry and landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Forecasters are predicting the front could bring rain, possible thunderstorms and crosswinds that would violate the shuttle’s flight rules into the Florida spaceport area. The two landing opportunities are at 12:19 p.m. and 1:54 p.m. CST.

Should mission managers wave off landing in Florida, there are two opportunities at Edwards Air Force Base in California at 3:25 p.m. and 5 p.m. The California forecast is favorable.

The Mission Management Team today declared the shuttle’s heat shield healthy and safe for entry and landing. The report followed a review of imagery obtained by the Orbiter Boom Sensor System Friday after Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station.

In preparation for landing, Endeavour’s crew tested the ship’s flight control surfaces and reaction control system thrusters. Both systems functioned well and are ready to support entry activities. After the checkout, Mission Specialist Don Pettit reported seeing an object drifting away from the orbiter. But, Flight Director Bryan Lunney said the object appears to have been a temperature/pressure label from the payload bay and does not present a risk to the vehicle.

The crew also deployed a small satellite designed to test space environment effects on new solar cell technologies. The Picosat satellite was deployed at 2:34 p.m. while the shuttle was over the southern Pacific Ocean. It will remain in orbit for several months.

Tomorrow, the crew should begin deorbit preparations at 7:15 a.m. and close the payload bay doors at 8:34 a.m. Here are predicted times for tomorrow’s landing opportunities (all CST):

248 Kennedy 11:14 a.m. 12:19 p.m.
249 Kennedy 12:50 p.m. 1:54 p.m.
250 Edwards 2:20 p.m. 3:25 p.m.
251 Edwards 3:57 p.m. 5:00 p.m.

On board the International Space Station the three Expedition 18 crew members awaited the arrival of the Progress 31 cargo ship. The Progress vehicle will deliver two-and-a-half tons of supplies to the station, including 2,866 pounds of spare parts, life support gear and equipment hardware. It carries 1,918 pounds of propellant for transfer into the Russian segment of the complex to feed the station's maneuvering thrusters, 110 pounds of oxygen and air, and 463 pounds of water. The cargo ship is scheduled to dock with the space station at 6:25 a.m. Sunday. There will be live coverage on NASA Television beginning at 5:45 a.m.

The shuttle crew is scheduled to go to sleep about 7:55 p.m. and awaken at 3:55 a.m. Sunday to begin landing day preparations.

The next status report will be issued at the beginning of the crew’s day or earlier if events warrant.

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