Atlantis' astronauts were awakened at 3:11 p.m. CDT this afternoon to make final preparations for their return to Earth following 10 days in space readying the International Space Station for future occupation. Mission Control awakened the astronauts to the march "El Capitan," by John Philip Sousa.
Final deorbit preparation begins at 8:13 p.m. CDT this evening on the crew's timeline. The space shuttle's payload bay doors will be closed at 9:33 p.m. and the spacecraft's radiators will no longer provide cooling once they are closed. Mission Control gives a "go" or "no go" call for transition to the software phase known as "Ops 3" at 9:45 p.m., shifting the onboard computers' attention to deorbit and entry tasks.
The astronauts start getting into their launch/entry suits at 10:49 p.m., climb into their seats at 11:13 p.m., perform a gimbal check of the Orbital Maneuvering System engines at 11:35 p.m. and pre-start the auxiliary power units to generate hydraulic power for the aerodynamic surfaces at 11:39 p.m.
The flight control team in Mission Control will review the condition of the Shuttle Orbiter and make a go/no go decision for the deorbit burn at 11:58 p.m. Atlantis maneuvers to the deorbit burn attitude at midnight and fires the OMS engines at 12:13 a.m. CDT to slow the forward speed and drop the spacecraft from orbit. Touchdown is planned for 1:20 a.m. Central time Monday at the Kennedy Space Center.
A second opportunity for landing occurs one orbit later with a deorbit burn at 1:50 a.m. and a landing at KSC at 2:56 a.m. CDT. The weather forecast for landing indicates acceptable conditions, although forecasters will be monitoring the progress of a front moving toward Florida throughout the day and its potential effect on winds at the Shuttle Landing Facility runway.
Two opportunities for a landing in Florida also are available on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, if needed. Also on Wednesday, Atlantis could land at Edwards Air Force Base, California, if required. Landing support will not be called up for Edwards until Wednesday.
The next mission status report will be issued following landing or wave-off Monday morning.
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