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  STS-128/Discovery: Racking Up New Science [Flight Day Journal] (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   STS-128/Discovery: Racking Up New Science [Flight Day Journal]
Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-09-2009 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day: Thirteen

Flight Day: 13 (con't)

As they wind down their mission, space shuttle Discovery's crew will focus on preparing to return to Earth.

The crew awoke to Rod Stewart singing "Sailing," a song played for European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang.

"That was a wonderful music this flight day morning 13. And very appropriate seeing we are flying and sailing home again, meeting our friends and family," responded Fuglesang.
The crew will spend the day preparing the vehicle for re-entry and ensuring its systems are operational for landing. Commander Rick Sturckow and pilot Kevin Ford will checkout of orbiter's flight control systems, including a hot-fire test of the reaction control system.

Mission specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas and Fuglesang will pack and stow items throughout the cabin. They will also set up and install a recumbent seat on the middeck that Tim Kopra will use for entry and landing after being in space for more than 50 days.


Space shuttle Discovery in orbit. Credit: NASA

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Thirteen

Live from orbit

All seven STS-128 crew members took time from their day to answer questions posed by reporters from CBS News, ABC News and CNN.

Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Thirteen

Landing preview and another DAM decision

Discovery's heat shield was cleared Wednesday for reentry, and the crew checked out the systems that will be used to control the space shuttle's return to Earth.

The first landing opportunity is planned for 6:05 p.m. CDT Thursday, but flight controllers are keeping a close watch on weather conditions at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A second opportunity is available on the following orbit at 7:42 p.m.

The forecast shows a frontal boundary meandering up and down the Florida peninsula over the weekend that could cause thunderstorms or winds unfavorable for landing.

Entry flight director Richard Jones and his team have elected to focus solely on a landing at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility runway on Thursday. If Discovery is unable to land in Florida on Thursday, additional opportunities may be considered at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on Friday or Saturday.

Whether the shuttle is landing on Thursday or not, the STS-128 crew may need to perform a debris avoidance maneuver (DAM) as a result of an object that appears to have come loose from either Discovery or the International Space Station during the mission's third spacewalk last Saturday.

Flight controllers will decide overnight if the astronauts need to fire Discovery's twin orbital maneuvering engines to avoid the debris or if the conjunction is not a threat.

If the retrograde burn is deemed necessary, it will take place about an hour after the crew wakes at 9:59 a.m.


Credit: NASA TV

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fourteen

Flight Day: 14

Kevin Ford and his six crewmates on space shuttle Discovery began what is planned to be their last day in space to "Good Day Sunshine" by The Beatles, played for the STS-128 pilot.
"We're hoping for some of that sunshine this evening at the Kennedy Space Center," responded Ford, who also wished his daughter a very happy 25th birthday.
Whether the sun shines or not will decide if the astronauts can come home today, as thunderstorms in the vicinity of their Florida landing site may postpone their return.

Before they can focus on reentry preparations though, the astronauts will first fire Discovery's orbital maneuvering engines to avoid a piece of debris, which flight controllers believe separated from either the shuttle or International Space Station during the mission's third and final spacewalk.

The orbital adjustment burn will take place at 11:02 a.m. CDT, about an hour before the debris was projected to come within the area of Discovery. After the maneuver, the unidentified debris will no longer be an issue.

This move will not impact Discovery's reentry opportunities scheduled for today, which begin with a planned deorbit burn at 4:59 p.m. CDT and a daylight landing at the Kennedy Space Center at 6:05 p.m.

If the weather does not cooperate, the next attempt is one hour after sunset with a burn at 6:36 p.m. and a landing at 7:42 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fourteen

Closing the payload bay doors

Although rain showers continue to grow and dissipate and stronger than acceptable winds are still in the forecast for the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Mission Control gave the crew of space shuttle Discovery the "go" to begin configuring their spacecraft for a possible return home this evening.
"We think there is a reasonable chance for this first attempt," advised astronaut Eric Boe from Houston, "so you are go for payload bay door closing."
With that, mission specialists Christer Fuglesang and Pat Forrester began the procedures to close Discovery's two 60 foot long doors that protect the orbiter's cargo bay.

If the weather cooperates, STS-128 commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow will fire Discovery's twin orbital maneuvering engines at 4:59 p.m. CDT, setting up a daylight 6:05 p.m. touchdown on Runway 15 at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fourteen

Refining their approach, refilling their liquids

Flight controllers have refined space shuttle Discovery's landing times this evening and given the astronauts a "go" to start fluid loading, as they continue to monitor the weather conditions at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
"Discovery, there is still a possibility for this attempt," radioed Eric Boe from Mission Control. "There is still rain showers in the area, we're still watching them and the crosswinds are still at the limits but you have a go for fluid loading."
Should the weather conditions improve, STS-128 commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow will perform a deorbit burn at 4:57 p.m. CDT, leading to Discovery touching down at 6:04 p.m.

If flight controllers decide to wave off the first attempt and try for their second opportunity today, then the deorbit burn will come at 6:35 p.m., setting up a night time landing at 7:40 p.m.

"Fluid loading" aids the astronauts' readjustment to gravity. The crew was given a choice of drinks, as indicated by the table below.


Credit: NASA

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fourteen

First attempt waved

With the weather conditions worsening at the Kennedy Space Center, flight controllers have waved off this evening's first attempt to bring home space shuttle Discovery.
"Right now, we're observed 'no go', forecast 'no go', the winds are a little stronger... and we also have showers within 30 miles," said capcom Eric Boe. "What we'd like to do is wave off this attempt."
Tonight's second opportunity begins with a deorbit burn at 6:35 p.m. CDT, setting up a landing in Florida at 7:40 p.m.

If the weather does not improve, Discovery will remain in orbit, with its next landing attempts coming on Friday.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fourteen

Second attempt waved, landing reset for Friday

Space shuttle Discovery's crew will spend another day in orbit, as rain showers at the Kennedy Space Center have forced flight controllers to wave off their second and last landing attempt for the day.
"The showers we were hoping would die off. It just doesn't look like it's coming together for us," advised capcom Eric Boe.

"We know everybody worked it as hard as they could," replied STS-128 commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow. "We'll look forward to trying again tomorrow."

The crew will try again on Friday, although if and where they will land will depend on the weather.

NASA's desire is to bring Discovery home to Florida, and Friday's first opportunity to do so begins with a deorbit burn at 3:41 p.m. CDT, followed by a landing at 4:48 p.m.

A second attempt is available one orbit later, with Discovery's orbital maneuvering system (OMS) engines firing at 5:17 p.m., leading to a 6:23 p.m. touchdown, just nine minutes before sunset.

If the weather in Florida does not support a landing, then Discovery would return to the Edwards Air Force Base in California.

"If the weather is iffy at [Kennedy Space Center], we'll kind of start slow [and] work our way towards the better weather for landing," radioed Boe, explaining that they would wave off a first attempt early if the weather does not look promising. "If both [Kennedy] opportunities are no go, we'll plan on landing at Edwards."
A first approach to the west coast would begin with a deorbit burn at 6:47 p.m., setting up a landing at 7:53 p.m.

A second attempt at Edwards (and the last landing opportunity for the day) would begin with an 8:23 p.m. ignition, resulting in a touchdown in the Mojave Desert at 9:28 p.m., 24 minutes after sunset.

Friday's weather forecast for the Florida is as dynamic, if not slightly worse than it was today. The conditions at Edwards Air Force Base are expected not to be a concern.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 09-11-2009 10:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Flight Day: Fifteen

Flight Day: 15

There are four opportunities at two landing sites to bring space shuttle Discovery and its crew home to Earth today after a flight to resupply the International Space Station and deliver a new crew member.

Poor weather conditions forced a wave off of two attempts to land at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida yesterday. There are two more chances to land in Florida today, but flight controllers have also activated landing support at Edwards Air Force Base in California for today's landing opportunities because of a forecast of continued unstable weather conditions in Florida.

Commander Rick Sturckow and his crew were awakened at 8:32 a.m. CDT today with the song "Big Boy Toys" by Aaron Tippin.

"It's another great day in space," responded Sturckow. "We hope the weather works out and we get to land the space shuttle Discovery today."
Sturckow and his crewmates should be into the deorbit preparation timeline by 11:49 a.m.

The deorbit burn for the first KSC landing opportunity is at 3:41 p.m. with landing at 4:48 p.m. The second Florida landing window begins with a deorbit burn at 5:17 p.m. and ends with a landing at 6:23 p.m.

The first landing opportunity in California has a deorbit burn time of 6:47 p.m. with landing at 7:53 p.m. The second opportunity would start with a deorbit burn at 8:23 p.m. and end with a night landing at 9:28 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

First attempt at Florida waved

Flight controllers have waved off their first opportunity today to land space shuttle Discovery in Florida.
"Discovery, we're going to wave off the first opportunity," reported capcom Eric Boe. "We're observed 'no go', forecast 'no go', for the rain showers within 30 miles [of Kennedy Space Center]. Weather is basically as we predicted, the atmosphere is unstable so we are going to look at the second opportunity for KSC."

"Any improvement in the forecast for the second [KSC] opportunity?" STS-128 commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow asked in return.

"The second opportunity looks about the same," Boe confirmed.

Discovery's next and last chance today to land at the Florida space center begins with a deorbit burn at 5:17 p.m. CDT, leading to a touchdown at 6:23 p.m.

If the weather conditions at KSC do not improve, flight controllers will target the shuttle's return for Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The first opportunity on the west coast starts with a deorbit burn at 6:47 p.m. for a landing at 7:53 p.m. A second attempt begins with ignition of Discovery's twin orbital maneuvering engines at 8:23 p.m., setting up a night landing at 9:28 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

Florida landing waved, Discovery heading for California

The weather in Florida has for a second day prevented space shuttle Discovery from returning home to Florida.
"Unfortunately at [Kennedy Space Center] the weather has not improved, so we are going to wave off the second attempt," reported capcom Eric Boe. "So, our next attempt is going to be Edwards [Air Force Base]. The weather there at Edwards actually looks good."

"We do appreciate everyone who worked the weather so hard in Florida," replied STS-128 commander Rick Sturckow. "We appreciate [our] families making the trip down but it doesn't look like it is going to work out for today. So, we'll set up for Edwards."

Discovery's crew will now target a deorbit burn at 6:47 p.m. CDT, leading them a 7:53 p.m touchdown on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

Preparations underway for returning to Earth

Working ahead in their timeline, the astronauts aboard space shuttle Discovery have begun preparing their spacecraft to return to Earth.

Mission specialists Pat Forrester and Christer Fuglesang have closed Discovery's payload bay doors.

Commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow and pilot Kevin Ford have started transitioning the orbiter's flight software from its on-orbit configuration to OPS-3 for reentry and landing.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

Suited and sipping

Having donned the same orange pressure suits they wore for launch in preparation for reentry, the STS-128 crew has been given a "go" by Mission Control to begin fluid loading.

"Fluid loading" aids the astronauts' readjustment to gravity. The crew was given a choice of drinks, as indicated by the table below.


Credit: NASA

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

"Go" for California

Diverted from the Kennedy Space Center due to rain showers over Florida, space shuttle Discovery will be landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Flight controllers gave STS-128 commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow the word that he was "go" to perform the deorbit burn, bringing the shuttle out of orbit.

Sturckow will fire Discovery's orbital maneuvering system engines at 6:47:37 p.m. CDT to set up a landing on Edwards' Runway 22 at 7:53:34 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

Deorbit burn

STS-128 commander Rick Sturckow fired Discovery's twin orbital maneuvering system engines at 6:47:37 p.m. CDT for two minutes and 35 seconds, slowing the orbiter's velocity by 267 feet per second (or about 182 miles per hour) beginning his and his six crewmates' return to Earth.
"Good burn, no trim required," reported Mission Control.

"Copy Houston, good burn," said Sturckow.

Discovery is on its way home after a 14-day mission to resupply the International Space Station.

Landing on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base is set for 7:53 p.m.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

Entry interface

Discovery, flying over the South Pacific with its nose tipped up and its wings level, encountered the first traces of Earth's atmosphere, known as the "entry interface", at 7:22 p.m. CDT at an altitude of 399,000 feet while still over 5,000 miles from landing on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

S-turns

Discovery is now flying a series of four steep banks, rolling as much as 80 degrees to one side or the other, to slow down.

This series of banks gives the shuttle's track toward the landing site the appearance of an elongated letter "S".

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Flight Day: Fifteen

Boom! Boom!

Twin sonic booms have been heard over California, as Discovery dropped below the speed of sound.

Commander Rick Sturckow has taken over control of Discovery to guide it through a 213-degree right overhead turn to align the orbiter for a 7:53 p.m. CDT touchdown on Runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert.

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Flight Day: Fifteen

Touchdown!

Space shuttle Discovery touched down safely at 7:53:25 p.m. CDT on Edward Air Force Base's Runway 22 in California.
"Wheels stop," reported commander Rick Sturckow as Discovery rolled to a halt.

"Welcome home Discovery!" replied capcom Eric Boe from Mission Control Houston. "Congratulations on an extremely successful mission stepping up science to a new level on the International Space Station."


Video credit: NASA TV

STS-128 completed 219 orbits while logging 5.7 million miles over the course of 13 days, 20 hours, 53 minutes and 45 seconds.

This was the 54th space shuttle landing at Edwards Air Force Base.

STS-128 marked Discovery's 37th flight, the 128th mission for the space shuttle program, and the 30th U.S. mission to the International Space Station.


Video credit: NASA TV/Max-Q Entertainment

The crew of STS-128 -- commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow, pilot Kevin Ford and mission specialists Pat Forrester, Jose Hernandez, Danny Olivas and European Space Agency astronaut Christer Fuglesang -- completed eight days of docked operations at the station, including three spacewalks, to deliver new science racks, supplies, and the COLBERT treadmill, as well as replace an ammonia tank assembly, the largest object manipulated by astronauts outside the station.

Their seventh crewmate on the ride home was flight engineer Tim Kopra, who spent 44 days as a member of the station's Expedition 20 crew for a total of 58 days in space.

Kopra's replacement aboard the station, NASA astronaut Nicole Stott, launched with Discovery's crew just seconds before midnight on Aug. 28. Stott, who will return on the next shuttle mission, targeted for Nov. 12, is the last astronaut scheduled to be rotated onto the station by means of the U.S. orbiter.

Disney's Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear also returned from the space station aboard Discovery. He launched in May 2008 on Discovery's STS-124 mission and served as the longest-tenured "crew member" in space. While on the station, Buzz supported NASA by creating a series of online educational outreach videos.


Credit: NASA/Jim Ross

Robert Pearlman
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Flight Day: Fifteen

A "great mission" comes to an close

"We're very happy to be back on land here in California," STS-128 commander Rick "CJ" Sturckow said after he and his crew exited Discovery and surveyed its condition.
"It was a great mission," said Sturckow, "and we just want to thank everybody for their support."
The seven astronauts, including former ISS flight engineer Tim Kopra, will fly to their training base at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Saturday. Meanwhile, technicians at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, adjacent to Edwards, will take about a week to get Discovery ready for its cross-country flight back to Kennedy Space Center atop a modified Boeing 747.

Credit: NASA/Jim Ross

Do you have comments and/or questions about the STS-128 mission? Post to our mission viewing and commentary thread.


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