Encyclopedia Astronautica
2001.07.23 - STS-104 Mission Status Report #24


Atlantis Commander Steve Lindsey, Pilot Charlie Hobaugh and Mission Specialists Janet Kavandi, Mike Gernhardt and Jim Reilly were awakened at 3:04 p.m. CDT to begin preparations for a return trip to Earth with a planned landing tonight at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The wakeup song was "Honey, I'm Home" by Shania Twain, played for Kavandi.

Preliminary weather forecasts show generally favorable conditions at the Shuttle Landing Facility tonight, with only a possibility of low clouds and rain within 30 miles of the runway.

The crew will begin its final deorbit preparations around 6:30 p.m. Atlantis' payload bay doors are slated to be closed at 7:49 p.m. and computers on the shuttle will be switched to landing mode at 8:01 p.m. with the crew scheduled to climb into their seats at 9:29 p.m. for the first of tonight's two landing opportunities.

The first opportunity to return to Florida begins with a deorbit burn at 10:29 p.m. resulting in an 11:37 p.m. CDT landing Monday (12:37 a.m. eastern time Tuesday.) If weather precludes a landing on the first opportunity, there is a second landing opportunity beginning with an engine firing at 12:08 a.m. and a landing at 1:14 a.m. Tuesday. For the second landing opportunity, Houston area residents would have an opportunity to watch Atlantis streak through the sky on its return to Florida. Atlantis would pass over the Houston area moving from southwest to east beginning at 12:57 a.m. Atlantis and its plasma trail should be visible in the skies for approximately two minutes as it flies at speeds between Mach 10-12 at an altitude of 130,000 feet, with less than 20 minutes to touchdown in Florida.

Aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition Two crew enjoyed a quiet day on orbit with no scheduled work, though they did spend some time working on items from their Task List. Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Susan Helms and Jim Voss went to bed at 1 p.m. and are scheduled to awaken at 9:30 p.m.

Both spacecraft continue to orbit the Earth in excellent condition at an average altitude of 240 statute miles.

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