Discovery is on her way home

July 17th, 2006

They started the de-orbit engine burn about a minute ago, with two minutes remaining. What lies ahead is one of the most hazardous parts of the journey, but the inspections say Discovery is on good shape, so I’m sure she’ll bring her crew safely to Florida.

Update: A perfect do-orbit burn has completed. There is no turning back once that burn has completed, so they’re definitely landing today! Soon they’ll start up the Auxiliary Power Units, which provide hydraulic power to the aero control surfaces.

Update, 7:36 AM CDT: Discovery’s three APUs are now fired up and ready to go. She’s now about ten minutes away from Entry Interface, where there’s enough atmosphere for the aero control surfaces to have effect.

Update, 8:26 AM CDT: Discovery touched down about ten minutes ago. She and her crew and home and safe. It’s a GOOD Monday!

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