Tuesday, August 09, 2005

COM: Blogarithmic #5

While waiting for the shuttle to land, and perhaps film re-entry (unless it's cloudy here . . .).

Update: Well, dang, they waved off on the second chance because of small storms around Cape Canaveral. Landing will be delayed about an hour and will happen in California, barring other unforeseen problems. At some point here i will tell the story of watching the shuttle re-enter over a couple hundred scared-out-of-their-wits kids.

More: From NASA live Coverage -- 5:30 a.m. - Discovery will be above Madagascar at 7:06 a.m., when the two orbital maneuvering system engines fire for the deorbit burn. At about 7:40 a.m., at an altitude of almost 400,000 feet, the orbiter will begin to encounter the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere, known as Entry Interface. It will perform a series of four banks -- a roll command followed by three roll reversals -- as it plunges into the atmosphere. Discovery will pass just north of Los Angeles, Calif. as it approaches Edwards Air Force Base, where it is headed for touchdown on runway 22.

Again: 6:12 a.m. - Capcom Ken Ham has informed Commander Eileen Collins that she and her crewmates are to resume fluid loading. Pilot Jim Kelly will pick up with the auxiliary power unit pre-start in about 15 minutes. This morning's landing at Edwards will be about 54 minutes before sunrise. The landing aids at the runway have been set to "night bright" so they are easier to see in the dark.

6:04 a.m. - We're now about an hour away from the scheduled deorbit burn that will bring Discovery to an 8:12 a.m. touchdown on runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base. Astronaut Mike Bloomfield is flying weather reconnaissance in the Shuttle Training Aircraft at Edwards. There are no issues of concern in the forecast at this time.

Continuing: 6:25 a.m. - The go/no-go decision for the deorbit burn is expected in about 15 minutes or so. Weather at Edwards continues to be favorable, with no issues for landing.

6:17 a.m. - Discovery is beginning its 219th Earth orbit. If the orbiter lands at Edwards Air Force Base on its first opportunity, this will be its final orbit.The deorbit burn, scheduled for 7:06 a.m., will slow the orbiter by just about 186 miles per hour, but that will be enough to put it back on a return trajectory. Traveling in a tail-first orientation, Discovery's two orbital maneuvering system engines will fire for 2 minutes, 42 seconds. At the time of the burn, the orbiter will be about 215 statute miles above Earth's surface. When it reaches Entry Interface and begins to encounter Earth's atmosphere, it will be about 75 miles above the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. As Discovery descends into the atmosphere, its nose will be elevated about 40 degrees and its wings angled.

The final stages: 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.

6:52 a.m. - Discovery is in the proper orientation, or attitude, for the deorbit burn. The burn is coming up in just a few minutes at 7:06 a.m. Touchdown at Edwards Air Force Base runway 22 is set for 8:12 a.m. Discovery will have traveled 5.8 million miles during the 13-day Return to Flight mission.

6:43 a.m. - Go for the burn! Capcom Ken Ham has informed Commander Eileen Collins that it's time to come home.

6:38 a.m. - In Mission Control, Houston, Entry Flight Director Leroy Cain will poll his team shortly for the go/no-go decision for the deorbit burn scheduled for 7:06 a.m.

Into the atmopsphere: 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 74 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.

The last few miles: 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. (i think this means they're through the dangerous breakup zone . . . tg)

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.

Home, whew!: 8:12 a.m. - Touchdown! Discovery is rolling out on runway 22 at Edwards Air Force Base!

The Usual Links

Okay, a few days ago i posted a compendium of the greatest movie car chases, but i have a hard time believing that any of them top this chase (which only briefly features a car at all) . . . if not for that rope ex machina in the middle . . .

Want to go to Law School? Here's the first year . . .

This may be the most amazing blog on the web!

A little word for you Martians . . . from the inimitable Jack Handey (John, you see this . . . ?)

Well, the site where this comes from explains that Sugar Bush the Squirrel is in London helping out after the terrorist attacks . . . no, really . . . really . . .

Thanks to Clicked, Hedonistica, FindLaw, The New Yorker


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