The seven astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Discovery were awakened at
3:09 a.m. this morning to make final preparations for their return to
Earth later this morning. "La Cucaracha," a well-known Spanish song,
was played for Mission Specialist Pedro Duque at the request of his
If weather and spacecraft systems cooperate, Discovery will touch
down at Kennedy Space Center.at 11:04 a.m. Central time after
completing 134 orbits of the Earth. Deorbit ignition of the orbiter's
maneuvering engines will occur at 9:53 a.m. CST to slow the
spacecraft's forward velocity, allowing it to drop back into the
Earth's atmosphere. Returning as an unpowered hypersonic glider,
Discovery will follow a ground track taking it across Texas and
Louisiana before it sweeps out over the Gulf of Mexico and into
Weather in Florida is predicted to be near but within acceptable
margins for crosswinds and clouds.
Today there are two landing opportunities at KSC and two to Edwards
Air Force Base, California. Discovery has a second chance to land at
KSC at 12:45 p.m. CST or could land at Edwards at either 12:35 p.m. or
2:17 p.m. Weather at Edwards is predicted to be good on Saturday but
unacceptable on Sunday. KSC weather will be near margins both days.
Flight controllers will try both opportunities into KSC before
considering the Edwards landing.
Although a normal entry, approach, and landing are expected,
precautionary plans are in place to accommodate a deployment of
Discovery's drag chute during reentry. The Shuttle Training Aircraft
that performs routine weather observations prior to landing and during
final approach will also visually monitor Discovery's drag chute
If Discovery lands today, the astronauts will spend the night at KSC
before returning to Houston mid-day on Sunday to a welcome at
Discovery'sastronauts glided to a smooth landing at the Kennedy
Space Center today to wrap up a nine-day, 3.6 million mile mission
which marked the return of John Glenn to orbit and saw the crew
members successfully conduct more than 80 scientific experiments.
Commander Curt Brown and Pilot Steve Lindsey set Discovery down on
the 3-mile long landing strip at KSC at 11:04 a.m. Central time,
following a flawless hour-long descent back from space. A missing drag
chute compartment door, which popped off during liftoff on October 29,
posed no problem for the astronauts and had no effect on the landing.
For Payload Specialist Glenn, the landing was a gentler return home
than he experienced more than 36 years ago when he splashed down in
the Atlantic Ocean in his Friendship 7 capsule after becoming the
first American to orbit the Earth. Glenn experienced only about 3 g's
of gravitational force during today's reentry, half of what he
experienced during his Mercury capsule mission in 1962.
"One G and I feel fine," Glenn exclaimed from the middeck following
Discovery's wheelstop on Runway 3-3 at the Kennedy Space Center. "The
view is still tremendous, give yourselves a pat on the back," Glenn
added, as he congratulated his crew mates on the completion of the
92nd flight in Shuttle
Brown, Lindsey, Glenn, Mission Specialists Steve Robinson, Scott
Parazynski and Pedro Duque of the European Space Agency and Payload
Specialist Chiaki Mukai of NASDA were scheduled to be reunited with
their families later today following postflight medical exams and
medical tests associated with some of the biomedical experiments
performed during the mission.
The astronauts will spend the night near the Kennedy Space Center
tonight before leaving Florida tomorrow morning for a heroes' welcome
back at Ellington Field in Houston Sunday.
Current plans call for the astronauts to leave the Cape Canaveral
Air Station Skid Strip late Sunday morning for an arrival at Ellington
around 2 p.m. Central time, where a crew return ceremony will mark
their homecoming at Hangar 276, led by NASA Administrator Daniel
Goldin, Johnson Space Center Director George W.S. Abbey, members of
Congress and Houston Mayor Lee Brown. Both the crew departure in
Florida and the crew return ceremony in Houston will be broadcast live
on NASA Television.
Those interested in any updates to the crew return schedule should
consult the NASA Code-A-Phone by calling 281-483-8600. The JSC
newsroom will open at 8 a.m. Sunday to accommodate members of the news
media planning to attend the Ellington ceremony. The newsroom can be
reached by calling 281-483-5111. Reporters may set up equipment at
Ellington starting at 8 a.m. Sunday but must have either affiliation
or STS-95 mission credentials to cover the event.
A parade in downtown Houston is planned for the STS-95astronauts on
Wednesday, Nov. 11, Veteran's Day, to honor the crew, the nation's
veterans and NASA.
NASA Television can be seen on GE-2, Transponder 9C at 85 degrees
West longitude, vertical polarization, with a frequency of 3880 Mhz
and audio of 6.8 Mhz.