Thursday, July 30, 2009

Live in Orbit: MMT clears heat shield for re-entry

The Mission Management Team meeting in Houston has cleared Endeavour's heat shields for re-entry based on a photographic examination after undocking.

"Endeavour's in great shape," Bryan Lunney, entry flight director, said.

After two weeks in space and five spacewalks, Endeavour is scheduled to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere after orbit 248 and land at Kennedy Space Center Friday at 10:48 a.m. EDT. A second landing attempt would be at 12:23 p.m. EDT. A slight chance of showers is predicted for the first attempt. The chance increases slightly for the second attempt.

"Weather, as you know in Florida, is always a challenge," Lunney said. "We think (the showers) won't start up until after noon. Things are looking really good for us."

Endeavour would land Saturday at KSC or at Edwards Air Force Base in California if showers prevent a Friday landing in Florida.

The failure of one of 44 flight control thrusters will not affect control of Endeavour on re-entry Friday. The forward jet failed during a routine test this morning. Either the jet or some instrumentation failed.

"It doesn't really matter," Lunney said. "We're not going to use that thruster at all."

Otherwise, the flight control system passed a checkout of the shuttle's control surfaces and electronics. The crew will deploy a second pair of small scientific satellites at 1:22 p.m EDT today while preparing to return to Earth.

The 19-inch spheres have different masses and will be monitored as they re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up.

For a third consecutive day, important NASA business is taking place at the same time as the mission.

You can continue to watch live coverage of Endeavour's mission by clicking here to open the live video feed of NASA TV's Public Channel.

For live coverage of today's Human Space Flight Plans committee meeting in Cocoa Beach, click here to open the live video feed of NASA TV's Media Channel.

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