[/caption](Editor’s Note: Ken Kremer is at the Kennedy Space Center for Universe Today covering the flight of Endeavour)
The crew of Endeavour is packing up their gear in the crew cabin and preparing for a Sunday evening (Feb. 21) landing at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida as a forecast of possible rain showers threatens to delay their return to Earth.
The first landing attempt is set for 10:20 PM EST on Orbit 217 with the de-orbit burn planned for 9:14 PM. See landing track below. A second opportunity is available at 11:55 PM. There are two additional opportunities available overnight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:25 AM EST Monday and 3:00 AM. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group and local news forecasts here in Florida predict deteriorating weather at KSC on Monday with increasing chances of rain.
The crew will berth the robotic arm and conduct the standard pre-landing check out of re-entry systems for the flight control surfaces. They will test the hydraulic power units and elevons and test fire all the steering jets during their last planned full day in space.
Eight Xenon lights will illuminate the SLF for the night time shuttle landing. Four xenons will be positioned at both ends of the runway to illuminate the touchdown and rollout area from behind the shuttle. Each Xenon light emits 1 billion candlepower, or 20 kilowatts.
Endeavour undocked from the ISS on Friday (Feb 19) at 7:54 PM EST while orbiting 208 miles high above the Atlantic Ocean after a completely successful period of joint operations with the Expedition 22 crew totaling nine days, 19 hours and 48 minutes. Shuttle pilot Terry Virts performed a fly-around of the station, enabling his crewmates to conduct a photo survey of the complex. The crew also conducted the now standard final check for any signs of damage to the heat shield tiles on Endeavour’s belly and the reinforced carbon carbon (RCC) panels on the wing leading edges and nose cap using the Orbiter Boom Sensor System attached to the shuttles robotic arm in order to ensure a safe reentry.
During the two week flight, the STS 130 crew brought aloft and installed the Tranquility habitation module and the Cupola observation dome and conducted three spacewalks. Tranquility houses critical life support systems. The Cupola possesses 7 spectacular windows affording dazzling vistas of the earth below and the cosmos above.
The station is now 98 percent complete by volume and 90 percent complete by mass. The station itself exceeds 800,000 pounds and the combined weight with the shuttle exceeds 1 million pounds for the first time.