Discovery's astronauts will finish their work inside the International Space Station tonight and are scheduled to have all the hatches closed by about 4 a.m. Thursday. Shortly thereafter, the shuttle's small thrusters will be fired to raise the entire complex's orbit in preparation for the undocking and departure set for late tomorrow afternoon.
The crew was awakened at 3:50 this afternoon by the Russian song "Vasha Blagarodye" followed by "The Charleston." The tunes were played for cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and Mission Specialist Ellen Ochoa.
The early part of the evening includes the completion of transfer activities. By day's end, the crew will have transferred a total of 115 items totaling 3,718 pounds of equipment both inside and outside the space station. Those numbers include seven containers of water totaling about 84 gallons for use by future station crews.
Ochoa and Canadian astronaut Julie Payette will use the shuttle's robot arm one last time this evening to conduct a survey of the port side antenna for the Early Communications System on Unity. This survey will complete robotic arm tasks scheduled earlier in the flight.
Once that is completed, the crew will begin closing the hatches that were opened after Discovery docked with the station earlier this week. The crew will climb out of Zarya at about 12:30 a.m. central time Thursday and will move out of the Unity module at about 2:50 a.m., closing the final hatch at about 3:30 a.m.
Commander Kent Rominger and Pilot Rick Husband will begin boosting the station's altitude at about 4:30 tomorrow morning using the Reaction Control System thrusters on the orbiter. The 40-minute activity will raise the complex's altitude by about 6 miles (statute). Undocking from the International Space Station is not scheduled until late Thursday afternoon at about 5:40 p.m.
The next STS-96 mission status report will be issued at about 7 a.m. Thursday or as developments warrant.