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Astronauts Close Payload Bay Doors for Landing


*Astronauts Close Payload Bay Doors for Landing*

Image above: The Shuttle Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., 
awaits the return of Space Shuttle Endeavour today. Image: NASA TV

The STS-118 crew is making final preparations for its return to Earth 
aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour to complete a successful assembly mission 
to the International Space Station. Landing is scheduled for 12:32 p.m. 
EDT at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.

Endeavour's payload bay doors are now closed. If flight controllers 
decide to press ahead with landing, Commander Scott Kelly and Pilot 
Charles Hobaugh will fire Endeavourís engines at 11:25 a.m. to begin the 
descent to Kennedy.

If flight controllers choose to pass on the first opportunity a second 
one is available at the Florida spaceport. It calls for touchdown at 
2:06 p.m., with the deorbit burn at 1 p.m. White Sands Space Harbor in 
New Mexico will not be called up today as a possible site. Edwards AFB, 
Calif., will be staffed, but is not expected to be used.

+ View STS-118 landing ground tracks 

Weather forecasts at Kennedy generally are favorable.

While at the station, the STS-118 crew continued the on-orbit 
construction with the addition of the Starboard 5 truss and conducted 
joint operations with the Expedition 15 crew. The crew conducted four 
spacewalks, which included the S5 installation and replacement of an 
attitude control gyroscope. The two crews also transferred several tons 
of cargo between the two spacecraft.

Landing will also bring to an end the first flight for Mission 
Specialist Barbara Morgan, an educator who was selected to become a 
mission specialist astronaut. She was first selected by NASA in 1985 as 
the backup to Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe.

Following the Challenger accident in 1986, Morgan continued to work with 
NASA on educational activities and returned to teaching elementary 
school in Idaho. She returned to NASA as an astronaut in 1998.

*Hurricane Dean Information*
On-orbit Hurricane Dean Video: + Real Video 
| + Windows Media 
+ NASA Hurricane Resource Page 
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