Following a one-orbit wave-off due to a rain shower that popped up off the end of the landing strip, STS-105 Commander Scott Horowitz fired Discovery's engines to begin the shuttle's return through the atmosphere, concluding a 4.3 million mile voyage. On Discovery's middeck, the Expedition Two crew - Commander Yury Usachev and Flight Engineers Jim Voss and Susan Helms - rode home in recumbent seats designed to lessen the effects of gravity.
Following routine medical examinations, the STS-105 crew - Horowitz, Pilot Rick Sturckow and Mission Specialists Dan Barry and Pat Forrester - along with the Expedition Two crew, will be reunited with their families. All seven crewmembers are expected back in Houston about 5 p.m. Thursday for a public welcome home ceremony at Ellington Field.
During their 12 days on orbit, the STS-105 astronauts worked with both the returning Expedition Two crew and newly-arrived Expedition Three crew to transfer more than two tons of experiment hardware, food and logistical supplies between Discovery and the station. In addition, Barry and Forrester performed two spacewalks to prepare the station for future growth.
In the meantime, aboard the International Space Station, the Expedition Three crew - Commander Frank Culbertson and Cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin - are preparing for the arrival of a Progress 5 cargo vehicle which is scheduled to dock to the aft docking port of the Zvezda module of the Station about 5 a.m. tomorrow.