After the wakeup call from Mission Control, the song "Good Morning Starshine," in recognition of the early morning deploy of the spherical-shaped, mirror-covered STARSHINE satellite. Students on Earth will use changes in the orbit of the highly reflective satellite to calculate the density of the earth's atmosphere throughout the projected 8 months that the 19-inch diameter satellite will remain in orbit. More than 25,000 students from 18 countries are participating in the project.
Before the crew deploys STARSHINE from a small canister in the payload bay, however, the crew will ready Discovery for the return home by testing the aero surfaces on the wings and tail, as well as the small steering jets to ensure their health to support reentry and landing activities Saturday night into Sunday morning. These checkouts are routinely done the day before the shuttle is scheduled to return home.
There currently are two landing opportunities at the Kennedy Space Center Sunday. For the first, Commander Kent Rominger would fire Discovery's braking rockets Saturday evening at 11:54 p.m. CDT and land at the Shuttle Landing Facility at 1:02 a.m. Sunday. The second landing opportunity is about an hour and a half later 2:38 a.m. This will be the 11th night landing for the shuttle program (five previously at Edwards AFB, Calif., and five at KSC). Weather forecasters predict favorable conditions for landing with a chance of developing rain showers. Based on that, landing support will only be called in for support in Florida.
In and around landing preparations and the STARSHINE deploy, the crew will stow all equipment used throughout the mission.
The next STS-96 mission status report will be issued at about 6 a.m. Saturday or as developments warrant.