Space Shuttle Endeavour and the STS-118 crew are scheduled to return home today, ending a successful assembly mission to the International Space Station. Landing is scheduled for 12:32 p.m. EDT at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
The seven astronauts will make final preparations this morning for landing. The payload bay doors are scheduled to be closed at 8:45 a.m. If flight controllers decide to press ahead with landing, Commander Scott Kelly and Pilot Charles Hobaugh will fire Endeavour’s engines at 11:25 a.m. to begin the descent to Kennedy.
If flight controllers choose to pass on the first opportunity a second one is available at the Florida spaceport. It calls for touchdown at 2:06 p.m., with the deorbit burn at 1 p.m. White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico will not be called up today as a possible site. Edwards AFB, Calif., will be staffed, but is not expected to be used.
Weather forecasts at Kennedy generally are favorable.
While at the station, the STS-118 crew continued the on-orbit construction with the addition of the Starboard 5 truss and conducted joint operations with the Expedition 15 crew. The crew conducted four spacewalks, which included the S5 installation and replacement of an attitude control gyroscope. The two crews also transferred several tons of cargo between the two spacecraft.
Landing will also bring to an end the first flight for Mission Specialist Barbara Morgan, an educator who was selected to become a mission specialist astronaut. She was first selected by NASA in 1985 as the backup to Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe.
Following the Challenger accident in 1986, Morgan continued to work with NASA on educational activities and returned to teaching elementary school in Idaho. She returned to NASA as an astronaut in 1998.