Thursday, July 30, 2009

Endeavour Spends Final Day on Orbit

The crew of the space shuttle Endeavour checked out the ship's rudder and speed brakes early this morning, and will deploy two small satellites as they prepare for tomorrow's landing here at the Kennedy Space Center.

Endeavour's commander Mark "Roman" Polansky and Pilot Doug Hurley will power up one of three power units which provide power to enable the spacecrafts aerodynamic's to perform when the orbiter drops through earth's atmosphere during landing.

The pair also tested the reaction control system thruster jets which will be needed early in the landing phase to drop Endeavour out of orbit. At 7:25 am EDT, Endeavour performed a series of burns in support of positioning the orbiter's altitude in support of two satellite deployments.

"Endeavour, Houston. Good burn... Good job gettings those burns off in short order," commented mission control's CAPCOM Alan Poindexter.

This morning, at 8:33 am EDT, the first of two small satellites will be deployed from the orbiter's payload bay as it flies 218 miles high.

The payload known as the Dual RF Astrodynamic GPS Orbital Navigator Satellite, or DRAGONSat, uses two picosatellites to study the way spacecraft dock automatically in space using the GPS system. DRAGONSat was design by students at the University of Texas and at Texas A&M.

DRAGONSat is comprised of two aluminium boxes which measure 5 inches by 5 inches, and are covered by solar cells to provide power to the internal radio receivers.

This afternoon, another satellite known as ANDE-2 or Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment, consists of two 19-inch spherical satellites and will orbit earth at 210 miles up and study the makeup of our atmosphere as scientists study how low earth orbit creates drag on orbital crafts.

ANDE-2 is set for deployment at 1:22 pm EDT today.

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