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STS-112 MCC Status Report #20

Submitted by Arthur - N1ORC

STS-112 MCC Status Report #20 
Thursday, October 17, 2002 - 6 a.m. CDT 
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas 

On its own again following yesterday's undocking from the International
Space Station, Space Shuttle Atlantis and its crew today focuses on
readying the orbiter for the return to Earth tomorrow at 10:44 a.m.
Weather forecasts indicate pristine conditions across the southeastern
U.S. tomorrow with clear skies and light winds. 

The first steps in changing Atlantis from a spaceship to an airplane are
to test its aero surfaces, required as the orbiter begins to interact
with the upper atmosphere on reentry and landing. Also tested today are
the thruster jets on the nose and tail of Atlantis which maneuver the
vehicle prior to dropping below 400,000 feet in altitude following the
deorbit burn. 

Atlantis' computers systematically deactivate these jets when desired air
pressure readings are detected at various stages throughout entry and

The crew of Commander Jeff Ashby, Pilot Pam Melroy and Mission
Specialists Dave Wolf, Sandy Magnus, Piers Sellers and Cosmonaut Fyodor
Yurchikhin spend the day stowing equipment, supplies and belongings in
preparation for tomorrow's anticipated return to the Kennedy Space Center
in Florida. 

At 11:46 this morning, the crew will discuss the success of the mission
with media representatives from the AP Radio Network, KMOX Radio of St.
Louis and WISH-TV of Indianapolis. The interview will air on NASA

Behind the shuttle at a distance of 120 miles (193 kilometers), the ISS
Expedition Five crew of Commander Valery Korzun, NASA ISS Science Officer
Peggy Whitson and Cosmonaut Sergei Treschev are preparing for their next
visitors, a Soyuz taxi crew scheduled to arrive late this month. The taxi
crew will return to Earth in the Soyuz at the station, which is nearing
its certified on orbit life limit. 

The shuttle crew began its last full day on orbit with a wakeup call from
Mission Control at 2:18 a.m. The song "These are the Days" performed by
Natalie Merchant was played for Sellers at the request of his wife. 

Atlantis' crew sleep begins at about 6:30 this evening and the crew will
be awakened at 2:16 a.m. Friday to begin landing preparations. 

The next STS-112 status report will be issued later today.

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