Discovery to return home on Thursday evening

By Phil Plait | September 9, 2009 7:40 am

The orbiter Discovery will return back to terra firma (well, squishy Florida is more like it) on Thursday at 19:05 Eastern time (23:05 GMT), or one orbit later at 20:42 EDT (00:42 Friday morning GMT) if they need to delay. Discovery has been docked with the International Space Station for nearly the past two weeks, where the astronauts on board delivered 9 tons of equipment and one ISS crew member.

Discovery undocked on Tuesday, and NASA has obliged with this seriously cool video (watch especially about 3:30 minutes in when the orbiter is seen from the ISS camera. Wow):

If I can, I’ll be live-tweeting the progress of the orbiter on my BANews feed on Twitter.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Space

Comments (23)

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  1. Lousy Canuck » Hubble and Discovery | September 9, 2009
  1. Okay, weird. I initially ready that as “Voyager to return home on Thursday”, which really confused me. I need to get to bed earlier tonight.

  2. Bill Roberts

    But won’t Voyager be named V’ger by the time it comes home to find its creator?

  3. I know it’s old and expensive and really needs to retire, but I sure am going to miss watching that thing fly.

  4. JScarry

    It undocked over the coast of California last night. It was surprisingly bright and fast and looked like it was much closer than it is.

  5. I haven’t had much of a chance to look up lately… I do need to take advantage of the low light pollution, and nice clear skies up here in NH though. I’m sure my daughter would love to see the ISS zip overhead too!

  6. I finally got to see the Shuttle and the space station flying over Atlanta on Monday night. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Hopefully I’ll be able to make it down to florida and see a launch before the program ends.

  7. T.E.L.

    JScarry Said:

    “It undocked over the coast of California last night. It was surprisingly bright and fast and looked like it was much closer than it is.”

    Maybe it really was that close. Maybe with the budget the way it is, NASA just can’t afford a perigee above twelve miles. Those things are pricey.

  8. 2. Bill Roberts Says:

    But won’t Voyager be named V’ger by the time it comes home to find its creator?

    Then, there was the ST:V’ger series…. er, ST: Voyager series (AKA ST:The Cash Cow part 2)

    Now, the ‘poor man’s tweet':

    Notes while viewing:

    twenty feet from the station –
    moving at how many thousand MPH? (KPH?)

    Fake! You can’t see any stars (just to get that out of the way)

    two and and a half tons of trash/recyclables?

    TEA Attitude – I REALLY hope that has nothing to do with Texas (AKA “doomed”)

    @break in clouds showing shoreline(?) WOW!

    J/P=?

  9. Pieter Kok

    They forgot to close the door!

  10. Ken

    OT: Looks like Hubble’s new camera is returning to service and getting some awesome pictures!

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/multimedia/ero/index.html

  11. holastefan

    At 10:40 in the video, shuttle passes directly over Lake Titicaca at the Peru/Bolivia border.

  12. Amazing video that really gives a good perspective on how massive the ISS really is!

    #4, JScarry:
    The Shuttle undocked over China, and tracked over South America, according to the video, so I’m not sure what you saw over California? (Unless the ISS passed over on a later orbit?) The Heavens Above website may tell you what it was, just plug in the time and date and location.

    #11, holastefan:
    Whenever our Geography teacher in High School mentioned Lake Titicaca, the whole class would snicker! He could not figure out why.

  13. My kids had their first day back to school today, and my 10-year-old daughter already has homework…

    She is supposed to go out and look at the sky from about 8:05 to 8:10 tonight, when Discovery and the ISS will be visible. With “nautical twilight” (what, exactly, is that, anyway) at 8:15PM, they may still be in sunlight against a darkened sky. Hopefully, it’ll be a good show. (I saw Mir back in 1988 during a “shuttle launch vacation” to see STS-26.)

  14. WJM

    Saw the ISS/shuttle pass overhead on Monday… and the ISS AND shuttle last night, separately.

    Very, very, cool.

    Now, I have to see a launch.

  15. It’s times like this that I hate DC. Between the leaky lighting and the humidity of living in an ex-swamp, we’re lucky if we can see the moon on a summer night. Let alone a space station.

  16. Mike Wagner

    They passed over here at 844 AST last night and it was awesome. I watched the ISS pass over by itself all summer, but seeing the two of them crossing the sky in tandem was fantastic.
    I laughed. I cried. It was better than ‘Cats’.

  17. Blizno

    9. Pieter Kok Says:
    “They forgot to close the door!”

    I wondered about that too. Why didn’t they close the hatches soon after undocking or even before undocking? If something goes wrong with the hatch closure it would be good to be in a safe place (relatively) where you can work on it.

    16. toasterhead Says:
    “It’s times like this that I hate DC. Between the leaky lighting and the humidity of living in an ex-swamp, we’re lucky if we can see the moon on a summer night. Let alone a space station.”

    A few years ago I was camping in a huge wilderness park in Minnesota. The nearest light was tens of miles away and there was no moon. The sky was brilliant with stars and the Milky Way was stunning. I saw a fast-moving very bright light with an equally fast-moving, dimmer light right behind it. I noted the time and then looked it up upon returning to civilization. It turns out it was the ISS and a shuttle undocking and drifting away from it. Glorious!

  18. T.E.L.

    Blizno Said:

    “Why didn’t they close the hatches soon after undocking or even before undocking?”

    Do you mean the big doors on the cargo bay? Those need to stay open ’til the shuttle is just about ready to come down. The doors double as the ship’s radiator, for getting rid of excess heat.

  19. Elwood Herring

    Just saw the shuttle and ISS pass over, thanks to an unusually clear sky here in Birmingham UK. Checked with the Heavens Above website for the times and sure enough, they were right on time. They passed over just above Jupiter. (It’s so rare to get a totally clear sky here so I always make the most of it when it happens!)

  20. GregInVancouver

    OK, who else had the Blue Danube Waltz running through their head as Discovery appeared from behind the ISS solar panels?

    I swear the docking of the Pan Am space plane with the rotating space station was prescient in so many ways. Sad that something made in 1968 shows the behaviour of space ships so much more accurately than anything made today.

  21. Ken

    I kept expecting to see the shuttle’s arm and boom extension start scraping across the Leonardo module like some wacky violin (a la Animusic)…

  22. pollywog40

    I seen the shuttle and ISS pass over Iowa last night and it was the coolest thing I ever seen. Thankfull for the clear sky.

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