Shuttle Atlantis Makes Picture Perfect Landing.

by Daniel Russ on November 27, 2009

Shuttle Atlantis' Heads Up Display

Shuttle Atlantis' Heads Up Display

“KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.–The shuttle Atlantis dropped out of a crystal clear Florida sky and glided to a “picture-perfect” landing at the Kennedy Space Center Friday to close out a successful 11-day space station mission, bringing astronaut Nicole Stott back to Earth after 91 days in space…

…Hobaugh, Wilmore, flight engineer Leland Melvin, and spacewalkers Robert Satcher, Michael Foreman, and Randolph Bresnik doffed their pressure suits for a traditional runway inspection about an hour and a half after touchdown.

“We really had truly an amazing mission,” Hobaugh said on the runway. “It was not us, it was not any single group, but it was just an incredible team from all around the nation.

“We were lucky, I mean, part of it’s luck and part of it’s just pure, great skill, workmanship in processing Atlantis, getting it ready for us. We had no hitches, we went off on time, we landed on time. … Nicole came back with us, she’s doing great, she’s headed back to see her family.”…

…Stott, Hobaugh, Wilmore, Melvin, Foreman, and Satcher planned to fly back to Houston early Saturday. Bresnik, whose wife Rebecca gave birth to the couple’s second child on Saturday, flew home right away aboard a NASA training jet to meet his daughter for the first time.

Stott is the last space station crew member to launch and land aboard a space shuttle. With just five more shuttle missions before the fleet is retired next year, all future U.S. station astronauts will fly to and from the lab complex aboard Russian Soyuz capsules.

Stott’s former station crewmates face a busy weekend in orbit preparing for the December 1 departure and landing of Expedition 21 commander Frank De Winne of Belgium, cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk, who were launched to the lab May 27. They are scheduled to land in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz TMA-15 capsule around 2:16 a.m. EST Tuesday to close out a 188-day stay in space.

Expedition 22 commander Jeffrey Williams and cosmonaut Maxim Suraev, who arrived at the lab complex in October, will have the outpost to themselves until December 23 when three fresh crew members–cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, astronaut Timothy Creamer and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi–are scheduled to arrive…

…Hobaugh and his shuttle crewmates delivered nearly 15 tons of spare parts and equipment to the space station, including two pallets loaded with large components as a hedge against failures after the shuttle is retired.

The gear included two orientation control gyroscopes, a spare pump module, nitrogen pressurization tank and ammonia coolant for the lab’s external cooling system, equipment for the mobile transporter that carries the station’s mechanical arm, a new latching end effector, or hand, for the space crane, and equipment for the lab’s electrical system.

The astronauts also carried out three spacewalks to prepare the complex for the attachment of NASA’s final major module in February and the eventual arrival of additional spare parts and equipment that will be ferried up next year. In addition, a high-pressure oxygen tank was attached to the station’s Quest airlock module.

For the trip back to Earth, the shuttle carried 2,100 pounds of station gear, including a urine distillation centrifuge that failed shortly before Atlantis took off. A replacement will be carried aloft on the next shuttle mission in February…”

Source: CNet

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