Flight controllers are closely monitoring the weather at the Kennedy
Space Center and at Edwards Air Force Base. High winds and possible
cloud cover are forecast for Kennedy that could prohibit a landing
there. The forecast for Edwards calls for acceptable landing weather.
To land on the first opportunity to Florida, Endeavour would fire
its engines to begin its descent at 2:53 p.m. CST. For the second
Florida landing opportunity, Endeavour would fire its engines at 4:24
p.m. to leave orbit. For a landing in California, Endeavour would fire
its engines at 5:51 p.m. CST.
Along with the six astronauts, aboard Endeavour are 332 high-density
tapes from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission containing data that
will be used to produce global maps more accurate and more unified
than any available today. During 222 hours and 23 minutes of
operation, Endeavour's radar covered 99.98 percent of the planned
mapping area - land between 60 degrees north latitude and 56 degrees
south latitude - at least once. About 94.6 percent of it was covered
twice. Only about 80,000 square miles in scattered areas remained
unimaged, most of them in North America and most already well mapped
by other methods. The data on the tapes would fill about 20,000
CD's. The total area mapped is more than 47.6 million square miles.
Also aboard Endeavour is a student experiment called EarthKAM which
took 2,715 digital photos during the mission through an overhead
flight-deck window. The NASA-sponsored program lets middle school
students select photo targets and receive the images via the
Internet. The pictures are used in classroom projects on Earth
science, geography, mathematics and space science. More than 75 middle
schools around the world participated in the experiment, which set a
record. On four previous flights combined, EarthKAM sent down a total
of 2,018 images.
The last Space Shuttle mission to land at Edwards was STS-76 in
March 1996. Since then, 20 missions have landed at Kennedy. The next
status report will be issued Tuesday after landing or as events
The six astronauts aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour glided to a smooth
landing at the Kennedy Space Center.at sunset today, wrapping up their
11-day radar mapping mission, the first human space flight of the 21st
With Commander Kevin Kregel at the controls, Endeavour touched down
at 5:22 p.m Central time on Runway 33 at the three mile long Shuttle
Landing Facility to complete a mission spanning almost 4.7 million
statute miles. Pilot Dom Gorie, Flight Engineer Janet Kavandi and
Mission Specialist Janice Voss joined Kregel on the flight deck for
entry and landing. Mission Specialist Mamoru Mohri from NASDA, the
Japanese space agency, and European Space Agencyastronaut Gerhard
Thiele were seated down in the middeck. The end of the STS-99 mission
marked the 21st consecutive landing at the Florida spaceport.
After waving off the first landing opportunity of the day because of
high cross winds at the landing site, the crew was given a
"go" to perform the deorbit burn which came at 4:24
p.m. Central time and caused Endeavour to fall out of it's 150 statute
mile high orbit to start the journey home to the Kennedy Space Center.
The data brought home by Endeavour's crew was collected during more
than 222 hours of around-the-clock radar mapping operations and is
enough to fill more than 20,000 CDs. The information gathered on the
STS-99 Shuttle Radar Topography Mission will be used to produce global
maps more accurate than any available today.
The STS-99 crew will spend the evening in Florida before returning
to Houston on Wednesday. The crew should land at Ellington Field in
Houston near the Johnson Space Center at about 1:30 p.m. Centrl time
where the six astronauts will be greeted by JSC management and center
employees. The crew return ceremony will occur at Hangar 990 and is
open to the general public. It will not be broadcast on NASA
Further updates on the time of the crew return ceremony can be
obtained by calling the JSC newsroom at 281/483-5111 on Wednesday
morning after 10:30 a.m.