Atlantis glided to a smooth touchdown today at the Kennedy Space Center, wrapping up a 4 and a half million mile mission to deliver a backbone truss structure to the International Space Station.
Commander Mike Bloomfield eased Atlantis to a textbook landing on runway 3-3 at the Florida spaceport at 11:27 a.m. Central time under clear skies and light winds. Bloomfield, Pilot Steve Frick and Mission Specialists Rex Walheim, Ellen Ochoa, Lee Morin, Jerry Ross and Steve Smith completed an 11-day flight in which four spacewalks were conducted to deliver and activate the new S-Zero (S0) girder to the ISS, which will serve as the centerpiece for a truss that will eventually span the length of a football field. Solar arrays will be mounted on the truss as well as new station modules. The S-Zero component will also serve as a switching station for electricity from the station’s solar arrays to ISS elements. In addition, the truss is a base for the first rail system in space through the use of its Mobile Transporter and the upcoming Mobile Base System to be delivered to the ISS in June on which the station’s robotic arm will be affixed to move up and down the length of the outpost.
The shuttle crewmembers were scheduled to depart Atlantis about an hour after landing to be driven back to the crew quarters at KSC for medical tests and reunions with their families.
The STS-110 astronauts will return home to Hangar 990 at Ellington Field in Houston near the Johnson Space Center at around 1 p.m. Central time Saturday for a welcome home ceremony. The public is invited to attend.
Meanwhile, aboard the ISS, Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch spent the day configuring station systems for the temporary closure of the complex early Saturday in advance of a short departure in their Soyuz return vehicle and a relocation of the craft to another docking port.
Onufrienko, Walz and Bursch will board their Soyuz return vehicle early Saturday for a brief flyover from its current docking location at the nadir port of the Zarya module to the Pirs Docking compartment. The relocation of the Soyuz, which is expected to take about 35 minutes, will begin with undocking Saturday at 4:02 a.m. Central time (902 GMT). Coverage of the operation on NASA Television begins at 3 a.m. Central time (800 GMT).
The movement of the Soyuz 3 vehicle from Zarya to Pirs opens the Zarya port for the arrival of a new Soyuz 4 craft on April 27 by a three-man “taxi” crew comprised of Commander Yuri Gidzenko, who served on the first resident crew of the ISS, Flight Engineer Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency and South African spaceflight participant Mark Shuttleworth. They will be launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 25 and will spend about a week in joint operations with the Expedition Four crew before departing from Pirs in the Soyuz 3 craft on the night of May 4.
Major systems aboard the ISS continue to function well as the station orbits at an average altitude of about 247 statute miles. Information on the crew’s activities aboard the space station, future launch dates, as well as station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at:
Details on station science operations can be found on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at:
The next International Space Station status report will be issued Saturday morning after the Soyuz redocking, or earlier, if events warrant.
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