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Image above: NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is adjacent to Edwards Air Force Base in California's Mojave Desert. Discovery is slated to touch down on the Edwards runway this evening. After that, the shuttle will be moved to the Mate/De-Mate Device at Dryden, which is in the lower portion of this aerial photograph. Also note the huge compass rose, which is painted on the desert floor for the benefit of the test pilots who fly at the base. Photo credit: NASA › View High-Res
Weather conditions forced flight controllers to pass on both landing opportunities at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Mission Control has decided to target Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for today's landing since the weather at Kennedy is unstable.
The first landing opportunity in California has a deorbit burn time of 7:47 p.m. EDT with landing at 8:53 p.m. The second opportunity would start with a deorbit burn at 9:23 p.m. and end with a landing at 10:28 p.m.
A landing today will complete a two-week flight for Commander Rick Sturckow, Pilot Kevin Ford, and mission specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas and Christer Fuglesang. Today is the 58th day in space for their crewmate Tim Kopra, who launched on shuttle mission STS-127 in July and spent two months on the International Space Station as an Expedition 20 crew member.
Image above: The Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida is the focus of attention as the STS-128 mission nears its end. The 3-mile-long runway was built specifically for the shuttle and it is one of the largest concrete runways in the world. Photo credit: NASA › View High-Res
Mission Control has called off Thursday's final space shuttle landing opportunity at Kennedy Space Center due to unstable weather conditions.
Two more Discovery landing opportunities are available Friday at Kennedy Space Center. The first begins with a de-orbit burn at 4:41 p.m. EDT and ends with landing at 5:48 p.m. The second opportunity begins with a de-orbit burn at 6:17 p.m. with a landing at 7:23 p.m.
However, the Florida weather forecast is not any better than Thursday's. For that reason, Entry Flight Director Richard Jones has decided to call up Edwards Air Force Base in California as an alternate landing site for Friday.
The first landing opportunity in California begins with a de-orbit burn at 7:47 p.m. with a landing at 8:53 p.m. The final landing opportunity of the day would start with a de-orbit burn at 9:23 p.m. ending with a landing at 10:28 p.m
Image above: The STS-128 crew answers questions during an interview while aboard space shuttle Discovery. Credit: NASA TV
Discovery’s heat shield was cleared for landing Wednesday, and the crew checked out the systems that will be used to control the space shuttle’s return to Earth.
The first landing opportunity is planned for 7:05 p.m. EDT Thursday, but Mission Control is keeping a close watch on weather conditions at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A second opportunity is available on the following orbit at 8:42 p.m.
Commander Rick Sturckow and Pilot Kevin Ford spent Wednesday preparing the shuttle for re-entry, completing a checkout of the flight control systems and test-firing the shuttle’s reaction control system thrusters.
Image above: This scene, photographed from the International Space Station while docked with space shuttle Discovery, shows the orbiter, the shuttle's robotic arm and a Soyuz vehicle docked with the orbital outpost. Credit: NASA
After closing the hatches between the two spacecraft last night, the two crews aboard space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station prepare to undock today.
Shuttle commander Rick Sturckow, Pilot Kevin Ford and mission specialists Tim Kopra, Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas, and Christer Fuglesang, will focus on preparations for the undocking from the station.
They are scheduled to undock from the station at 3:26 p.m. EDT. Once safely separated from the orbiting complex by about 450 feet, Ford will conduct a flyaround of the space station. The maneuver provides an opportunity to get video of the station that can be used to inspect for damage or general condition of the vehicle’s exterior. A final separation burn is expected at 5:09 p.m.
Later, the shuttle crew will again engage the shuttle robotic arm, its extension boom and cameras for a last look at the thermal protection system to check for any damage.
Image above: The Expedition 20 and STS-128 crews say goodbye before closing the hatches between the International Space Station and space shuttle Discovery. Credit: NASA TV
With over a week of docked operations behind them, the astronauts and cosmonauts said their goodbyes and closed the hatches between the International Space Station and space shuttle Discovery at 11:41 p.m. EDT Monday.
The 13 crew members aboard space shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station completed final transfer work between the two spacecraft and returned the high-tech moving van “Leonardo” back to the orbiter’s payload bay Monday.
Arriving aboard Discovery was the newest Expedition 20 crew member, Nicole Stott, who switched places with Mission Specialist Tim Kopra. Stott will handle flight engineer duties aboard the station until her return home aboard Atlantis following the STS-129 mission in November.