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Sat, Jul 15, 2006

NASA Reports Discovery Set To Land Monday

KSC, Edwards Looking To The Skies

NASA reports that Commander Steve Lindsey and his crew onboard the Space Shuttle Discovery will complete their mission, STS-121, with a landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, FL set for 9:07 am EDT on Monday, July 17. Discovery began its 13-day mission to the International Space Station on July 4.

Landing at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility is slated to occur on orbit 203 at the mission-elapsed time of 12 days, 18 hours and 29 minutes. The deorbit burn will occur at 8:04 am. Should conditions not favor a landing at that time, a second Kennedy landing opportunity is available at 10:42 am, with the deorbit burn at 9:40 am.

Two landing opportunities are available at the back-up landing location on Edwards Air Force Base, CA on Monday. However, mission managers are expected to attempt a landing only at Kennedy Monday unless there are technical reasons that would necessitate other plans. The first opportunity at Edwards would be 12:11 pm EDT and the second at 1:46 pm.

If landing occurs as scheduled, this will be the 62nd landing at Kennedy in the history of the shuttle program. Discovery will be serviced and prepared for its next mission, STS-116, targeted for December.

About an hour after touchdown, the STS-121 crew members (shown below) will meet with their families and undergo initial physical examinations. A post-mission press conference with the crew is scheduled at Kennedy's News Center no earlier than six hours after landing.

If Discovery lands at Edwards (as was the case last year) an augmented Kennedy convoy team will be onsite to secure the orbiter, disembark the crew and move the orbiter to the mate/demate device, the structure used to prep the shuttle for its ferry flight back to Kennedy atop NASA's modified 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.

After relaxing for the day Thursday, the crew onboard the shuttle has begun securing the orbiter to undock from the International Space Station, and for its return from orbit. Before that occurs, however, the astronauts will conduct a series of "sweeps" -- using a sensor mounted on the shuttle's remote arm -- of the wings, searching for possible signs of damage caused by micrometeroids.

The left wing was scanned on Friday, with the right wing expected to be scanned Saturday.



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