Saturday, April 17, 2010

Discovery crew prepares for Monday Landing

Landing time at KSC:
8:51 a.m. EDT or 10:26 a.m. EDT
Weather: A 50 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 75. Northeast wind between 5 and 10 mph.

The Discovery crew will have extra free time Sunday because the thermal protection system has already been inspected and cleared for re-entry.

"The crew is going to be buttoning up the cabin (Sunday)," Richard Jones, lead shuttle flight director, said.

A chance of showers due to a cold front could delay the scheduled 8:51 a.m. EDT first landing attempt at Kennedy Space Center Monday. A second landing attempt is scheduled for 10:26 a.m. EDT.

Commander Alan Poindexter, Pilot Jim Dutton and Mission Specialist Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger will test fire Discovery's re-entry and control rockets at 4:51 a.m. EDT Sunday.

Discovery's crew Saturday stored the orbital boom sensing system and the broken Ku-band antenna. The crew also dumped wastewater.

The antenna malfunctioned during the mission, but the shuttle crew received most of the critical information from Mission Control before leaving the International Space Station, Jones said.

"We got the crew in the same configuration as if we had the Ku-band antenna," Jones said.

Three more shuttle missions remain, and Mission Control workers apparently are savoring the last moments of the 30-year-old shuttle program.

"It was more of a deeper emotion," said Jones, describing the end of this mission. "I'm sure it's running through people's minds."

Jones, however, pointed out that NASA's budget has been increased and the agency has a new mission to support the commercial launch industry and develop a heavy lift rocket capable of leaving low Earth orbit.

"We have quite a bit of work ahead of us," Jones said.

The shuttle spent 10 days 5 hours and 8 minutes at the station. Discovery's visit was marked by three spacewalks and the delivery of 17,000 pounds of cargo. With 13 crew members aboard Discovery and the space station, a record was set for the most women in space - four.

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