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Discovery Set To Land Saturday

March 25, 2009

The space shuttle Discovery’s crew is expected to complete its mission to the International Space Station with a landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 1:43 p.m. EDT on Saturday, March 28. The return to Earth will conclude a 13-day flight. Nine of those days were spent docked to the station.

During the STS-119 mission, the shuttle and station crews installed and deployed the final set of solar arrays. The arrays provide the electricity to fully power science experiments and support the station’s expanded crew of six in May. The flight also delivered Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, who replaced space station crew member Sandra Magnus. She spent more than four months aboard the station and will return to Earth aboard Discovery.

The entry flight control team in Mission Control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will evaluate weather conditions at Kennedy before permitting Discovery to return to Earth. Saturday’s landing opportunities at Kennedy are at 1:43 p.m. and 3:19 p.m. If weather prevents a Kennedy landing Saturday, the secondary landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., will be activated Sunday for consideration as well.

Approximately two hours after landing, NASA officials will hold a media briefing to discuss the mission. The participants will be:

- Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Space Operations, NASA Headquarters, Washington

- Mike Leinbach, NASA space shuttle launch director, Kennedy

After touchdown in Florida, the astronauts will undergo physical examinations and meet with their families. The STS-119 crew is expected to hold a news conference about five hours after landing Saturday.

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Source: upi



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