Today is homecoming day for space shuttle Endeavour. The crew has been given the go for deorbit. The deorbit burn will take place in about 2 minutes at 17:25 CET. The landing at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Shuttle Landing Facility will take place around 18:32. If anything important happens, you’ll read it here.
The vehicle was cleared for landing earlier in the mission after NASA engineers and managers spent a week analysing one damaged area. The area got hit by a piece of foam from the external tank during the launch. Thermal assessments of the damaged tiles revealed that they don’t pose a threat to crew and vehicle safety during re-entry. A final post-docking inspection of the Thermal Protection System revealed no other damaged areas.
Updates (all times CET):
- 17.24h: Good config for the burn.
- 17.25h: Deorbit burn started!
- 17.30h: Deorbit burn complete! The 1-hour trip to Earth’s surface has started.
- 18.01h: Endeavour is now at the point called Entry Interface.
- 18.04h: Mission Control warned the crew about a period of intermittent communications around the point of the first roll reversal.
- 18.07h: First banking maneuver happens about now. This is used to bleed off excess speed.
- 18.17h: As it just crossed Central America, Endeavour is now heading towards Cuba as it enters its first roll reversal.
- 18.20h: Communications have been restored as the shuttle passes over Cuba.
- 18.26h: And there she is! Visual contact at an altitude of over 80000 feet about 7 minutes from touchdown.
- 18.29h: We just heard the famous double sonic boom.
- 18.31h: The crew just reported the runway being in sight. She sure looks beautiful gliding down to the runway!
- 18.32h: Gear down and locked.
- 18.33h: Main gear touchdown… and nose gear touchdown!
- 18.34h: Wheel stop!
- 18.42h: The crew and Mission Control are now going through the procedures to put the vehicle in a safe configuration.
These are the official times given by NASA:
- Main gear touchdown at 18:32:16 (Mission Elapsed Time [MET] of 12 days 17 hours 55 minutes 34 seconds)
- Nose gear touchdown at 18:32:29 (MET of 12 days 17 hours 55 minutes 47 seconds)
- Wheel stop at 18:33:20 (MET of 12 days 17 hours 56 minutes 38 seconds)