STS-96 Day 10 Highlights
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- On Saturday, June 5, 1999, 7:00 a.m. CDT, STS-96 MCC Status Report # 20
- During their final full day in orbit, Discovery's astronauts
released a small student satellite high over the Indian Ocean and
prepared for a Sunday morning landing at the Kennedy Space Center.
- Mission Specialist Julie Payette of the Canadian Space Agency
deployed the spherical, mirror-covered STARSHINE satellite at 2:31
a.m. CDT. The satellite rose slowly out of its payload bay and entered
an orbit two miles below Discovery. At 6 a.m. CDT, the two spacecraft
were 26 miles apart, with the distance between them widening by 10
miles each orbit.
- STARSHINE project officials at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
report they have already been able to see the bright satellite. More
than 25,000 students from 18 countries are participating in the
project. As the students track the satellite - which is visible to the
naked eye - they will calculate the density of the Earth's upper
atmosphere by recording changes in STARSHINE'S orbit. The satellite is
expected to remain aloft for about 8 months, re-entering the
atmosphere in January.
- Earlier in the day, the shuttle crew successfully verified the
performance of Discovery's small steering jets and flight control
surfaces, ensuring their readiness to support landing. The crew also
tested all the necessary communications channels, and stowed away some
of the equipment and hardware used on board over the past several
- With favorable weather conditions forecast for the primary landing
site, mission managers decided not to activate the back-up landing
site at Edwards Air Force Base in California. There are two landing
opportunities at the Kennedy Space Center.on Sunday. For the first,
Commander Kent Rominger would fire Discovery's engines in a deorbit
burn at 11:54 p.m. Saturday with a landing following at KSC's Shuttle
Landing Facility at 1:03 a.m. Sunday. The second landing opportunity
calls for a deorbit burn at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, resulting in a landing
at 2:38 a.m. This will be the 11th night landing for the shuttle
- Meanwhile the International Space Station continues to circle the
globe at an altitude of 246 miles, trailing Discovery by 210 miles,
with the distance increasing 10 miles each orbit.
- The next STS-96 mission status report will be issued at 6
p.m. Saturday or as developments warrant.
- On Saturday, June 5, 1999, 7:00 p.m. CDT, STS-96 MCC Status Report # 21
- Discovery and its seven-member crew are preparing to return home
tonight with landing planned for 1:03 a.m. Central time following a
flight that will go into the books as the first docking of a shuttle
with the International Space Station.
- Weather permitting, Discovery's computers will ignite the twin
breaking rockets on the tail just before midnight to slow the vehicle
toward a descent through the atmosphere high above the Pacific Ocean.
The ground track shows the orbiter navigating its way to its seaside
home at the Kennedy Space Center.from the south after crossing Costa
Rica, Cuba, the Florida Everglades, and East of Lake Okechobee.
- The forecast for landing still shows a chance of rain within 30
miles of the runway and a possibility of crosswind violations on the
3-mile-long concrete Shuttle Landing Facility. The runway of choice
for tonight's landing is Runway 15. The final turn to align the
shuttle with the runway would be out over the water with landing from
the northwest to the southeast. If landing is delayed one orbit,
touchdown one orbit later at 2:38 a.m. CDT.
- Following crew wakeup at 4 p.m. today, the astronauts began the
final preparations for landing, including closing the hatches to the
Spacehab module, which has served as the cargo transfer compartment
throughout the flight. The wakeup music was "The Longest
Day," to commemorate what spacecraft communicator in Mission
Control Mario Runco called a "landing of a different kind."
His reference was to the 55th anniversary of the Allied troop landing
on the beaches of Normandy during World War II that occurred on June
- If all goes as planned, Discovery's cargo bay doors will swing shut
at 9:18 p.m., after which the astronauts will climb into their launch
and entry suits and strap into their seats. Commander Kent Rominger,
Pilot Rick Husband and Flight Engineer Ellen Ochoa will be joined on
the flight deck for entry by Mission Specialist Julie Payette. Tammy
Jernigan, Dan Barry and Valery Tokarev will be seated down on the
middeck for entry.
- If landing occurs on the first opportunity, Discovery will have
covered 3.8 million miles during the mission. STS-96 will be the 11th
shuttle mission to end in darkness. Five previous flights have ended
at Edwards AFB in California and five at KSC.
- The next STS-96 mission status report will be issued after landing.
The next International Space Station status report will be issued on
Thursday, June 10.
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