Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Discovery systems ready for re-entry

Discovery's steering thrusters worked fine during standard day-before-landing tests.

The orbiter's Reaction Control System is equipped with 16 forward jets on either side of the nose and 28 rear jets split between pods flanking the tail fin.

They'll be used to set up Discovery's deorbit burn, planned at 10:52 a.m. Wednesday, and control its begins to enter the atmosphere, before flight control surfaces can take over.

Those systems, including wing flaps and the rudder speed brake, were checked out earlier this morning.

After the successful tests, the crew will pulse thrusters again as part of a Department of Defense experiment called "RAMBO" that will monitor exhaust plumes to help model systems for future spacecraft.

The crew is also packing final pieces of equipment and luggage in preparation for Wednesday's planned 11:57 a.m. landing attempt at Kennedy Space Center.

A NASA TV commentator described the latest weather forecast as "fairly favorable."

At 11:23 a.m. today, the crew will conduct interviews with ABC News, CBS News and the Associated Press. A crew tribute to Discovery follows at 12:08 p.m.

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