Discovery Landing Timeline
Posted by pdxpogo 12 years ago
From the NASA Virtual Launch Control Center.  
 
Welcome home Discovery!  
 
Times are EDT Start at the bottom of the entry for chronological order  
 
8:17 a.m. - A convoy of landing support trucks and equipment are heading out onto runway 22 to begin safing the orbiter and assisting the flight crew. There are 78 Kennedy personnel in that convoy, and a turnaround team of 174 people will fly to Edwards from Kennedy on Wednesday to help prepare Discovery for its ferry flight back to Florida. It takes about 6 days to ready an orbiter for that return flight atop NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, a modified Boeing 747.  
 
Today's official landing time was 8:11:22 a.m. EDT.  
 
8:13 a.m. - Wheels stop. "Happy to be back," Collins said to Capcom Ken Ham after he offered congratulations.  
 
8:12 a.m. - Touchdown! Discovery is rolling out on runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base!  
 
Main gear touchdown, nose gear touchdown, chutes deployed... and Discovery is home.  
 
8:10 a.m. - Commander Eileen Collins reports she has the runway in sight! Discovery's altitude is 17,000 feet -- 10 miles to touchdown.  
 
8:07 a.m. - Discovery's wings leveling as it approaches the landing site. Now that the orbiter has gone subsonic, Commander Eileen Collins has assumed control. She'll fly Discovery on a 194-degree right overhead turn to align with runway 22.  
 
8:04 a.m. - This will be the 50th landing of a Space Shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base. Eight minutes, 135 miles to touchdown.  
 
8:02 a.m. - 10 minutes until touchdown. Discovery is in range of ground tracking and using Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) data. There is one bank remaining in the series of four.  
 
7:59 a.m. - 470 miles to touchdown, speed 7,400 miles per hour. Discovery is banking back to the left, the third in a series of four steep rolls to help dissipate speed as it heads for touchdown.  
 
7:56 a.m. - Traveling 17 times the speed of sound, Discovery is within 1,000 miles of the runway at Edwards Air Force Base.  
 
7:52 a.m. - In its first of three roll reversals, Discovery is banking back to the right with its wings angled 75 degrees to horizontal. Discovery's current speed is 14,000 miles per hour at an altitude of 217,000 feet.  
 
7:50 a.m. - Discovery is traveling 15,400 miles per hour at 230,000 feet. About 2,000 miles to Edwards.  
 
7:46 a.m. - The rear steering jets have been activated; Discovery is beginning the transition from spacecraft to aircraft as it descends toward landing. The first roll reversal is coming up shortly.  
 
7:45 a.m. - Discovery is beginning its first in a series of four banks that will help dissipate its speed as it plunges through the atmosphere. The first roll is to the left at 80 degrees to horizontal. The orbiter's nose is angled upward 40 degrees.  
 
7:43 a.m. - Altitude 56 miles. Discovery is traveling 17,000 miles per hour and is less than 4,000 miles from Edwards Air Force Base.  
 
7:40 a.m. - Now flying almost 400,000 feet above the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, Discovery is just beginning to encounter the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere.  
 
7:30 a.m. - Ten minutes until Entry Interface.  
 
7:28 a.m. - All three of Discovery's APUs are now up and operating well.  
 
7:25 a.m. - Fifteen minutes until Entry Interface, when Discovery begins to feel the effects of Earth's atmosphere. Discovery's altitude is 175 miles as it continues its descent.  
 
7:20 a.m. - Part of Discovery's reaction control system, the rear steering jets control the orbiter during the early part of descent. As the orbiter transitions from spacecraft to aircraft, those jets are phased out as air pressure builds, and the orbiter's aerosurfaces become active.  
 
7:17 a.m. - Current altitude is 213 statute miles.  
 
7:12 a.m. - Over the next 30 minutes, Discovery will free-fall until it reaches Entry Interface, about 75 miles over the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. Current altitude is 220 statute miles. Post burn procedures are in work. Touchdown is one hour away.  
 
7:09 a.m. - Burn complete! Mission Control reports a good deorbit burn -- no trim required. Expect Entry Interface at about 7:40 a.m. and landing at 8:12 a.m.  
 
7:06 a.m. - The deorbit burn is underway! High above the western Indian Ocean, Discovery's two orbital maneuvering systems are firing for a 2 minute, 42 second burn that will put it on a trajectory to Edwards Air Force Base. Discovery and her crew of seven are on their way home after the historic Return to Flight mission to the International Space Station!  
 
7:01 a.m. - Five minutes until the burn. The first APU is up and running.  
 
6:56 a.m. - Now 10 minutes away from the deorbit burn. About 5 minutes prior to the burn, Pilot Jim Kelly will activate one of three auxiliary power units. The remaining two will be activated after the burn, when Discovery has begun its descent. The auxiliary power units power the hydraulic systems that operate the orbiter's aerosurfaces, including the rudder, elevons and landing gear.