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STS-121 MCC Status Report #23



SUBMITTED BY ARTHUR N1ORC - AMSAT A/C #31468


5 p.m. CDT Saturday, July 15, 2006
Mission Control Center, Houston, Texas

    07.15.06
STATUS REPORT: STS-121-23

STS-121 MCC Status Report #23

The Space Shuttle Discovery is on its way home with six astronauts on 
board, one fewer than when it launched 11 days ago.

The delivery of European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Reiter to join 
Expedition 13 on the International Space Station was one of the major 
goals achieved on this second return to flight shuttle mission. 
Discovery is now aiming for an 8:14 a.m. CDT Monday landing at the 
Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The shuttle astronauts said goodbye to Reiter and his crewmates, Station 
Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Jeff Williams, and 
Commander Steve Lindsey and Pilot Mark Kelly reported the hatches 
between the two ships closed at 3:15 a.m. CDT. Astronauts Lisa Nowak and 
Stephanie Wilson completed a leak check in the docking vestibule while 
Mike Fossum and Piers Sellers installed a centerline camera in the hatch 
window.

With Kelly at the controls, Discovery released its grip on the station 
at 5:08 a.m. CDT and springs pushed the two ships apart. Kelly guided 
the shuttle away to a distance of 400 feet and fired thrusters to 
separate the vicinity of the complex. A second engine firing, 50 minutes 
after undocking while above and behind the station, set Discovery on 
course that now has it about 46 miles behind the station and opening the 
distance slowly. No other shuttle engine firings are planned before it 
fires its engines to begin the descent to Earth Monday morning.

After Discovery left the station, the shuttle crew used the robotic arm 
and boom sensors to thoroughly inspect the starboard wing and nose cap 
heat shield, looking for damage from orbital debris. A similar survey of 
the port wing was conducted yesterday. After the nose cap survey, the 
boom was berthed along the starboard sill of the payload bay and the 
robot arm was powered down.

Mission managers reviewing the latest heat shield inspections of 
Discovery have found no concerns so far, and the analysis is continuing. 
Discovery is planned to fire its engines to deorbit at 7:07 a.m. CDT 
Monday. That is the first of two opportunities for landing on Monday at 
Kennedy. A second opportunity begins with a deorbit engine firing at 
8:43 a.m. CDT leading to a landing at 9:50 am. CDT. The next STS-121 
status report will be issued early Sunday.
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