Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Endeavour systems ready for re-entry, landing

Endeavour astronauts have completed a successful checkoutof the aerosurfaces and steering thrusters that will control the orbiter's descent through the atmosphere to a final landing planned at 2:35 a.m. Wednesday at Kennedy Space Center.

Around 11 p.m. EDT, commander Mark Kelly, pilot Greg Johnson and mission specialist Roberto Vittori powered up Auxilliary Power Unit No. 1, one of three units that produce the hydraulic system power needed to maneuver the orbiter's wing flaps, body flap, rudder and speed brake.

Those surfraces will become active as Endevour begins feeling atmospheric pressure roughly 30 minutes before landing, flying at an altitude of about 80 miles and more than 5,000 miles from KSC.

Around midnight, the crew members pulsed, or "hot-fired," 44 nose and tail Reaction Control System steering jets that will control Endeavour's decent after the deorbit burn but before the aerosurfaces take over.

Endeavour's re-entry will slow the spacecraft from its orbital speed of 17,500 mph to about 225 miles at touchdown.

Coming up at 12:26 a.m.: A videotaped crew tribute to Endeavour's legacy as it nears the end of its 25th and final mission and eventual museum display at the California Science Center. [Update: The event has been delayed to an unspecified time while the crew records and downlinks the video.]

Joining Kelly, Johnson and Vittori on Endeavour's final crew are mission specialists and spacewalkers Greg Chamitoff, Drew Feustel and Mike Fincke.

Later this morning, Kelly and Johnson will perform landing simulations on a laptop. Others will be packing equipment and exercising. The orbiter's Ku-bad antenna will be stowed inside the payload bay at 6:46 a.m.

1 comment:

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