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Management Team Clears Discovery for Re-Entry;Crew Prepares for Friday Landing


*Management Team Clears Discovery for Re-Entry; Crew Prepares for Friday 

Image above: Space Shuttle Discovery is pictured from a miniature 
satellite that was released from Discovery's payload bay on Wednesday. 
Image Credit: DOD Space Test Program TO VIEW IMAGE GO TO:


About 3:35 p.m. EST, flight controllers at the Mission Control Center in 
Houston told Commander Mark Polansky that the Mission Management Team 
has cleared Space Shuttle Discovery for re-entry. The decision came 
after analysis of data collected during Wednesday’s inspection of 
Discovery’s heat shield.

Discovery’s first landing opportunity is scheduled at 3:56 p.m. EST 
Friday at Kennedy Space Center, Fla. If weather does not cooperate, six 
more opportunities at three landing sites are available. The Friday 
weather forecast currently calls for a chance of rain and low clouds at 
Kennedy, potential strong crosswinds at Edwards Air Force Base in 
California and acceptable landing conditions at White Sands Space Harbor 
in New Mexico.

The last opportunity at Kennedy is at 5:32 p.m. Three exist at Edwards – 
5:27 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8:36 p.m. Two are available at White Sands – 5:27 
p.m. and 7:02 p.m. All three sites will be activated. Landing 
opportunities also are available Saturday at all three sites.

In preparation for landing, Polansky and Pilot Bill Oefelein checked out 
Discovery’s systems and jets that will be used in the deorbit burn and 
landing. Also, crew members are busy stowing equipment and other items. 
Other preparations include a review of the landing procedure and stowage 
of the Ku-band antenna.

The crew members took a break this afternoon to talk with reporters from 
CNN and ABC News and with students at the Kenai, Alaska, Challenger Center.

In other activities, the Atmospheric Neutral Density Experiment (ANDE) 
was deployed from Discovery's payload bay at 1:23 p.m. ANDE will measure 
the density and composition of the low-Earth orbit atmosphere while 
being tracked from the ground. The data will be used to better predict 
the movement of objects in orbit. Two other small satellites were 
deployed Wednesday night.

Discovery undocked from the station Tuesday, ending an eight-day stay at 
the orbital outpost. While there, the crew continued the construction of 
the station with the addition of the P5 spacer truss segment during the 
first of four spacewalks. The next two spacewalks rewired the station’s 
power system, leaving it in a permanent setup. A fourth spacewalk was 
added to allow the crew to retract solar arrays that had folded improperly.

Discovery also delivered a new crew member and more than two tons of 
equipment and supplies to the station. Almost two tons of items no 
longer needed on the station will return to Earth with STS-116.
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