The observant of you will note that the space shuttle Discovery hasn’t landed following mission STS-128. This was due to the weather at the intended landing site at the Kennedy Space Center being bad. This means the shuttle will stay in the skies an extra day and come down tomorrow at 10:54pm BST (5:54pm EDT) if the weather clears. There are options for a landing in California at Edwards or even White Sands if the delay drags on as it has in the past.
Still, this could mean a third day of shuttle watching for me. I saw it preceding the ISS a short distance from each other yesterday. Tonight I had my father with me and we both saw the shuttle making its way across the skies over the house. The space station arrived shortly after that. Unfortunately, the arrival of my brother in law meant headlamps shining into camera, so no photo. But he did join us to watch the space station, which turned up in the sky directly as the shuttle faded from view. The distance between them now widening. They will return to UK skies twice tomorrow (Friday September 11th) with a pass around 7:49pm and one around 9:23pm, with the shuttle a couple of minutes before the station. That assumes no sudden deorbital burns for landing (especially for the latter one). It would be nice to see the shuttle on its final orbit before landing, given we’re in a good site to see the first orbit immediately after launch.
But enough of the ground. In space, between fluid loading (drinking so their bodies can accommodate g-forces associated with landing after spending time in space) closing the cargo bay doors and donning orange suits for landing (in case of leaks), the astronauts have been running over their landing procedures. Tomorrow will be the same. NASA have stuck a few videos on their Youtube Channel including a boundary layer (moving from international space station orbit to pre landing orbit) transition briefing, a mission status briefing, flight day 13 highlights and a landing postponement briefing. They have also stuck up a report on science performed by the ISS, highlighting the benefits so far derived from the station:
STS-128 can be followed by occasional bulletins here, its mission pages, through live events on NASA TV (later posted to NASA’s Youtube Channel) or through twitter via @Astro_Jose, @Astro_Tim, @CFuglesang, @Astro_Nicole and @NASA. Check here to see if the ISS or other satellites are going to pass over your area.