Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tests show Discovery's systems ready for re-entry

Discovery astronauts this morning finished tests of system's needed for Monday's atmospheric re-entry ahead of schedule, and all performed well.

Commander Alan Poindexter, pilot Jim Dutton and mission specialist Dottie Metcalf-Lindeburger, the flight engineer during re-entry, tested flight control systems and fired steering jets.

The team first tested Discovery's wing flaps, rudder and speed brake, which will help control the orbiter's flight as begins to feel the atmosphere about 30 minutes before touchdown, transitioning from a spaceship to an airplane.

They then fired 38 primary steering jets that will be used to position the orbiter for its dive through the atmosphere, pulsing each twice.

Next the seven shuttle crew members are to be briefed on Monday's landing plan, which includes two attempts at Kennedy Space Center, and eat lunch. They'll also continue to secure equipment and clean up the crew cabin before landing.

A series of media interviews is scheduled at 7:36 a.m. EDT. Watch them live here by clicking the NASA TV box at right to launch a viewer.

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