The shuttle Discovery astronauts completed scientific experiments Tuesday, their last full day in space, and readied their ship for a fiery return to Earth Wednesday.
Mission control in Houston awakened the five-member crew at 1:47 a.m. EDT by playing "Fanfare to a Common Man," one of co-pilot Robert Cabana's favorite songs, and the University of Missouri fight song in honor of commander Richard Richards' alma mater."You've been so good to us we thought we'd give you two (songs) for the price of one," radioed astronaut Story Musgrave from mission control in Houston.
"We really feel honored," responded Richards.
After breakfast and exercise, Richards, 44, Cabana, 41, and astronauts Thomas Akers, 39, William Shepherd, 41, and Bruce Melnick, 40, quickly went to work, performing routine maintenance and checking out various systems on their spaceship.
With the Ulysses solar probe more than 1.6 million miles away and speeding smoothly into deep space at about 24,000 mph, Richards and Cabana briefly switched on one of Discovery's three auxiliary power units to test the spaceship's control systems.
The pair will use the systems to guide the ship safely back to Earth, with landing scheduled for 6:57 a.m. PDT Wednesday on a concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base.
The shuttle gave skywatchers at the Kennedy Space Center a show about 6:36 a.m., appearing 181 miles up like a shooting star in the predawn sky and passing directly over the moon.