Hubble Servicing Mission 3A Update - Dec. 27-28 Day 8
Landing Day! An initial concern regarding crosswinds at the landing site at Kennedy Space Center made the NASA officials cancel the first landing attempt. At the time of the second attempt, one orbit later, the Sun was almost setting over Kennedy Space Center and the crosswinds had died out. The crew was told to begin "fluid loading", which is a technical term for drinking ample amounts of lime-flavoured salt water. This is also a clear sign that the landing is going to take place soon. The fluid loading is necessary to prevent the astronaut from fainting from low blood pressure and dehydration when they return to the gravity on Earth.
At 23:48 CET the so-called pre-orbit burn began. This is the manoeuvre that will enable the Shuttle to enter the atmosphere as the first step of the landing procedure.
00:15 on Dec. 28 Discovery entered the atmosphere and started to slow down. At 01:01 CET the landing occurred and the third Hubble Servicing Mission was over.