Endeavour Commander Dom Gorie and Pilot Mark Kelly fired the shuttle's steering engines and jets twice today to adjust course toward the station. Gorie and Kelly also checked out the rendezvous systems and navigation aids Endeavour will require for its final approach to the orbiting complex, finding everything in good shape. Later, Kelly, assisted by Mission Specialist Linda Godwin, powered up the shuttle's robotic arm to check its operation and to use its television cameras to survey the Raffaello cargo module and experiments housed in Endeavour's payload bay. On Saturday, the robotic arm will be used by Kelly to attach Raffaello to a station berthing port so that more than three tons of food, supplies and experiments it holds can be moved aboard the complex.
Godwin and Mission Specialist Dan Tani also powered up and tested the space suits they will wear for a four-hour space walk on Monday, finding all the equipment in good condition. Godwin and Tani will install extra insulation on mechanisms that rotate the station's solar arrays during the excursion. Also today, Godwin powered up Endeavour's docking mechanism and extended it into position to await contact with the station. The Expedition Four crew members aboard Endeavour, en route to begin an almost six-month mission aboard the station, assisted the shuttle crew today with preparations and worked with several secondary scientific investigations.
All crew members on the shuttle had a few hours off-duty this evening, providing a short break in advance of what will be a busy week docked with the International Space Station. Endeavour is scheduled to dock at the station at about 1:59 p.m. CST Friday. The final phase of the approach begins with an engine firing by Endeavour at about 11:44 a.m. CST, when the shuttle is some nine miles behind the complex. Gorie will take over manual control of Endeavour's approach just after 1 p.m. CST, when Endeavour moves within a half-mile underneath the station. Gorie will fly the shuttle closer, maneuvering a quarter-circle around the station to dock at the complex's front port. Hatches will be opened between the two spacecraft and the crews will greet one another around 4 p.m. CST.
Meanwhile, aboard the station today, the Expedition Three crew, Commander Frank Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin, spent their final solo day in flight packing for the trip home. The station crew, completing more than four months in space, also continued to unload a Russian cargo supply craft that docked to the station last week.
Endeavour's crew will begin a sleep period at 10:19 p.m. CST and awaken at 6:19 a.m. CST on Friday. Endeavour is now about 3,500 statute miles behind the station, closing in 260 miles with each orbit of Earth.