Sunday, April 18, 2010

Discovery's Crew Prepares for Monday Landing

The crew of the space shuttle Discovery spent today testing the ship's controls and steering jets in preparation for a Monday morning landing here at the Kennedy Space Center.

Current weather models for America's Space Coast show low clouds and a 50% chance of showers within 30 nautical miles of KSC runway 15 tomorrow morning.

NASA's mission managers are selecting only Kennedy for a landing attempt on Monday, and will stay aloft an extra day if the weather is not acceptable. A Tuesday attempt would see both Kennedy and Edwards, AFB in California called-up to support landing.

Currently, landing by Discovery following 14 days in space is scheduled for 8:48 am EDT.

The crew will awake on Monday at 12:21 am, and prepare for landing day. The first task of many will be the closure of the twin 60-foot long payload bay doors at 5 AM.

If controllers feel the weather acceptable for landing, Discovery will begin her drop out of orbit at 7:40 am, as the ship fires it's twin engines and slowing the craft downby 230 miles per hour.

Meanwhile, the seven member crew prepared their ship for it's return home.

Commander Alan Poindexter, pilot James Dutton and flight engineer Dorothy Metcalf-Lindeburger test fired 44 steering thrusters which surround the orbiter, and performed a hotfire of one of three auxiliary power units.

The APU's provide power to the aerosurfaces of the shuttle, as the crew tested the elevons and rudder at 3:35 am to ensure their not frozen on landing day as the ship glides home.

Mission specialist Stephanie Wilson earlier stowed the orbital boom sensor using the shuttle's fifty-foot robotic arm, then stowed the arm itself -- both along either side of the payload bay.

The OBS was used several times to inspect the crafts thermal protection system around Discovery for any damage or micrometeorite hits.

Discovery undocked from the International Space Station on Saturday following ten days of resupply transfers from the Leonardo cargo module which the shuttle carried up.

As of 8:00 am this morning, Discovery was 125 miles ahead of the station in a slightly lower orbit, with the shuttle's distance increasing nine miles per orbit. The lower orbit by a few miles allows for the two spacecraft to separate at a quicker rate.

This flight is the second to final mission by Discovery, with only three more space shuttle flights left until the program retires. Discovery's next flight is scheduled for mid-September.

No comments:

copyright 1998 - 2010 Charles Atkeison, All rights reserved.