Having departed the International Space Station last night, Atlantis' crew will now spend a day checking the shuttle's equipment and stowing away gear in preparation for the trip home, aiming for a 2:56 a.m. CDT landing on Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
STS-106 Mission Commander Terry Wilcutt along with Pilot Scott Altman and Mission Specialists Ed Lu, Rick Mastracchio, Dan Burbank, Yuri Malenchenko and Boris Morukov were awakened at 5:46 p.m. Central to begin what should be their final full day in orbit. This evening’s wake-up song was “Home in the Islands” by The Brothers Cazimero, played for Lu who considers Honolulu a hometown.
This evening Wilcutt and Altman will test the systems that will be used during the return home to Kennedy Space Center to ensure that equipment remains in good condition. Around 8:45 p.m. Central, a test of the flight control systems that maneuver the shuttle once it re-enters the atmosphere and begins to operate like an airplane will be conducted. Just before 10 p.m., a test fire of all 44 thruster jets on Atlantis will be performed to verify they are in good working order.
The astronauts also will spend part of their work day putting away the equipment they have been using over the last week along with items being brought back from the International Space Station in preparation for their return to Earth.
Atlantis remains in excellent operating condition, as does the International Space Station, now more than 100 statute miles behind the shuttle. The two spacecraft are moving about 8.8 miles farther apart with each orbit of Earth. For a touchdown in Florida at 2:56 a.m. CDT on Wednesday, Atlantis would fire its engines to begin a descent at 1:49 a.m. CDT. A second opportunity also exists for a landing in Florida on the next orbit. The second opportunity would have the deorbit burn taking place at 3:27 a.m. CDT and Atlantis touching down on the 3-mile-long runway at KSC at 4:33 a.m. CDT.
The next mission status report will be issued at 7 a.m. CDT on Tuesday.
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