9 p.m. CDT Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas
STS-128 MCC Status Report #25
HOUSTON – Discovery’s heat shield was cleared for landing today, and the crew checked out the systems that will be used to control the space shuttle’s return to Earth.

The first landing opportunity is planned for 6:05 p.m. CDT Thursday, but Mission Control is keeping a close watch on weather conditions at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A second opportunity is available on the following orbit at 7:42 p.m.

The forecast shows a frontal boundary meandering up and down the Florida peninsula over the weekend that could cause thunderstorms or winds unfavorable for landing.

Entry Flight Director Richard Jones and his team have elected to focus solely on a landing at Kennedy’s Shuttle Landing Facility runway on Thursday. If Discovery is unable to land in Florida on Thursday, additional landing opportunities may be considered at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., on Friday or Saturday.

Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot Kevin Ford spent the day preparing the shuttle for re-entry, completing a checkout of the flight control systems and test-firing the shuttle’s reaction control system thrusters.

Mission Specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang packed up for the return to Earth, and installed a reclining seat that will be used by Mission Specialist Tim Kopra, who is returning home after more than 50 days in space.

All seven crew members answered questions posed by reporters from CBS News, ABC News and CNN on NASA Television.

The shuttle crew is due to go to sleep about 2 a.m. Thursday. The next shuttle status report will be issued after the crew awakens to begin final landing preparations at 9:59 a.m., or earlier if events warrant.

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