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Shuttle Payload Bay Doors Close for Landing


*Shuttle Payload Bay Doors Close for Landing*

Image above: The Aurora Borealis, also known as "northern lights", is 
featured in this photograph taken by a STS-116 crew member onboard 
Discovery during flight day 11 activities. Image Credit: NASA TO SEE 


The STS-116 crew closed Space Shuttle Discovery’s payload bay doors 
about 12:13 p.m. EST in preparation for a 3:56 p.m. landing at Kennedy 
Space Center, Fla.

If flight controllers elect to take this landing opportunity, Commander 
Mark Polansky will fire Discovery's jets to begin the descent to Kennedy 
at 2:49 p.m.

All three landing sites have been activated today due to forecasts of 
questionable weather at Kennedy and Edwards Air Force Base in 
California. The forecast for the White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico 
is favorable.

Six more opportunities are available today if flight controllers pass on 
the first. 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.

The STS-116 crew is returning home after a successful mission to the 
International Space Station. While at the station, the crew continued 
the construction of the outpost 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, most of which were located in the 
SPACEHAB cargo module. Almost two tons of items no longer needed on the 
station are returning to Earth with STS-116.
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