There are two landing opportunities available this evening for Discovery's return to the Kennedy Space Center. The first landing opportunity begins with a firing of the Shuttle's orbital maneuvering system engines at 10:50 p.m. for an 11:56 p.m. landing. A second opportunity, one orbit later, begins with a deorbit burn at 12:26 a.m. Wednesday, resulting in a landing at 1:31 a.m. Weather at the Kennedy Space Center is not expected to be favorable today, however, with the possibility of high winds, rain and clouds in the vicinity of the Shuttle Landing Facility. The backup landing site at Edwards Air Force Base in Calif. was called up for landing support this morning and weather conditions are expected to be acceptable there for landing. Flight controllers will continue to monitor the weather at both landing sites and Entry Flight Director Wayne Hale is expected to make a decision regarding landing opportunities shortly after 10:30 p.m. today.
Discovery's astronauts are scheduled to begin their deorbit preparations at 6:53 p.m. today - configuring the shuttle's computers for reentry, deactivating the galley and installing seats on the flight deck and middeck. The payload bay doors are scheduled to be closed at 8:10 p.m.
If given a go to land, Wetherbee and the shuttle crew - Pilot Jim Kelly and Mission Specialists Andy Thomas and Paul Richards will perform a series of procedures that will lead to the firing of the Shuttle's large orbital maneuvering engines later this evening, beginning the crew's hour-long reentry to Earth. Discovery is also bringing home the first occupants of the International Space Station, Expedition One Commander Bill Shepherd and Russian crewmates Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev. After 141 days in space, the Expedition One crew will re-enter Earth's atmosphere reclining on seats designed to help ease the stress of gravity and landing on their bodies.
On board the International Space Station, Expedition Two Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Susan Helms and Jim Voss spent a relatively quiet day in space as they enjoyed another day of light activities.
Discovery continues to orbit the Earth in excellent shape at an altitude of 237 statute miles as its astronauts gear up for landing.