Discovery's astronauts prepared for a Monday landing after high crosswinds at Kennedy Space Center caused a delay of at least one day in their return to Earth and the end of their successful mission to expand the International Space Station and ready it for its first crew.
Discovery has two landing opportunities Monday at KSC, where the weather is expected to be questionable, and three at Edwards Air Force Base in California. The second KSC and first Edwards opportunities are on the same orbit, six minutes apart. Edwards will be activated for a possible Monday landing, but weather there is expected to be marginal. Weather conditions at KSC are not expected to improve over the next two days, while improvement in California is forecast.
For the first Monday landing opportunity - to KSC - Discovery would fire its orbital maneuvering system engines at 12:43 p.m. CDT to begin its descent from orbit, with landing to follow at 1:51 p.m. The second Florida opportunity is one orbit later with a 2:21 p.m. deorbit burn resulting in a landing at 3:28 p.m.
The first opportunity to Edwards would see a deorbit burn at 2:15 p.m. CDT with landing at 3:23 p.m. The second would have Discovery's deorbit burn take place at 3:51 p.m. with landing at 4:58 p.m. and the final opportunity one orbit later with an engine firing at 5:29 p.m. and landing at 6:35 p.m.
Flight controllers in Houston will work through Monday morning to develop a landing plan based on conditions at the two sites.
After "deorbit backout" -- undoing their preparation to come home on Sunday -- the crew spent much of the afternoon relaxing and communicating with their families via computer. STS-92 Mission Commander Brian Duffy, Pilot Pam Melroy and Mission Specialists Leroy Chiao, Bill McArthur, Mike Lopez-Alegria, Jeff Wisoff and Koichi Wakata, are scheduled to go to bed tonight shortly after 9 p.m. and be awakened at 5:17 a.m. Monday.
The International Space Station, from which Discovery undocked Friday, continued to function well. The station flight control room in the Mission Control Center continued to monitor systems on board. They watched and commanded heaters on the huge gyroscopes on the newly installed Z1 truss. The gyros will provide attitude control for the ISS, and the heaters are designed to protect them from damage by the cold of space.
The station trails Discovery by 248 statute miles. The distance is increasing by 5.4 miles each 90-minute orbit of the Earth.
The next status report will be issued at 6 a.m. Monday or as events warrant.
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