6 p.m. CDT Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-127 MCC Status Report #29
Space shuttle Endeavour’s crew spent the day inspecting the spacecraft’s heat shield one last time and began early preparations for Friday’s return home to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

With the International Space Station and its six-person crew slipping further and further behind following Wednesday’s undocking, Endeavour’s crew turned its attention to unlimbering the robot arm and boom extension. With its suite of sensitive instruments, the boom was used to scan the wing leading edges and nose cap for any sign of tiny impacts as part of a routine procedure to ensure the orbiter’s outer shield has a clean bill of health for reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere.

While imagery experts pore over the data sent down during the scan to evaluate the Thermal Protection System’s integrity, shuttle Commander Mark Polansky and the STS-127 crew will focus on packing up the shuttle and checking out its flight control systems and thruster jets Thursday morning.

Mission managers will be briefed on the Damage Assessment Team’s findings Thursday as well, but early indications are there were no impacts that would pose a concern for entry. The formal presentation to the Mission Management Team is set for 11 a.m. CDT.

On orbit, the crew will deploy two small research satellites and set up a special recumbent seat for Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata returning after 138 days in space (133 on the station).

The first half of the crew’s day Thursday will include the support of the entry team in Mission Control lead by Flight Director Bryan Lunney. The team will watch over the checkout of all vehicle systems to ensure they are healthy and ready to support landing of Endeavour after 16 days in space. Landing is scheduled for 9:48 a.m. CDT after 248 orbits of the Earth.

The seven crew members have adjusted their wake/sleep cycles to correspond with landing day activities and will be awakened at 1:03 a.m. CDT Thursday by Mission Control. That’s approximately when the next status report will be issued, or earlier if events warrant.

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