Landing Coverage

Welcome to NASA's STS-122 Landing Blog
 
Note: All times are given in Eastern Time unless otherwise noted.
Activated: 7:30 a.m. EST
Deactivated: 11:05 a.m. EST

Space shuttle Atlantis returned to NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 20, 2008, to end the STS-122 mission. With Commander Steve Frick at the controls, Atlantis soared over Florida on its way to the spaceport. The shuttle's main landing gear touched down at 9:07:10 a.m. EST, and the spacecraft came to a stop at 9:08:08 a.m. EST.

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Video highlights from STS-122's landing are selected from televised coverage provided by NASA TV.
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11:05 a.m. - This concludes the nasa.gov coverage of the landing of space shuttle Atlantis to mark the end of the STS-122 mission to the International Space Station. The flight ended with a flawless landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center after almost 13 days in space.

10:55 a.m. - "It's great for the 122 crew to be back on the ground at Kennedy Space Center," Atlantis Commander Steve Frick said after taking a walk around the shuttle on the runway. "Everything worked just great and perfectly."

Frick, Pilot Alan Poindexter and mission specialists Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Stanley Love and European Space Agency astronaut Hans Schlegel posed for some photos alongside Atlantis before climbing into the same astrovan that took them to the launch pad to start their flight on Feb. 7. They will ride the astrovan to the Crew Quarters area at Kennedy where family members are awaiting their return.

"We're going to go now and see our families," Frick said.

10:45 a.m. - Six of the seven astronauts of STS-122 are out on the runway and looking over Atlantis. Several of NASA's senior space shuttle managers greeted them when they stepped out of the crew transport vehicle. NASA astronaut Dan Tani, who is returning after four months on the International Space Station, stayed inside the crew transport vehicle.

10:10 a.m. - Technicians continue to run through an extensive series of operations to ready space shuttle Atlantis for its eventual towing to the Orbiter Processing Facility. The seven astronauts are inside the crew transport vehicle.

9:50 a.m. - The astronauts have left space shuttle Atlantis and are aboard the crew transport vehicle which is still parked next to Atlantis. Technicians will retrieve several experiments that are time-sensitive so they can be studied right away.

9:32 a.m. - A vehicle similar to the ones that move groups of people around airports has driven to the side hatch area of Atlantis. The seven astronauts onboard will get into the vehicle for medical checks or other evaluations. They are expected to come out and look over the outside of Atlantis before returning to the Astronaut Crew Quarters here at Kennedy.

9:20 a.m. – Pilot Alan Poindexter is turning off the three auxiliary power units. The convoy of specialized trucks and equipment will soon pull alongside Atlantis to begin more extensive post-landing operations.

9:15 a.m. - Atlantis flew 5.3 million miles during its mission to install the European-built Columbus laboratory at the International Space Station. The mission lasted 12 days, 18 hours, 21 minutes and 50 seconds. Main gear touchdown occured on time at 9:07:10 a.m. EST. Wheels stop occured at 9:08:08 EST.

9:08 a.m. - Wheels stop and the STS-122 mission has ended. Space shuttle Atlantis is sitting on the north end of the Shuttle Landing Facility and a convoy of support vehicles is on its way to the orbiter.

9:07 a.m. - Main gear touchdown!

9:06 a.m. - Atlantis is on its final approach to runway 15 from the northeast and will flare just before deploying its landing gear and touching down on the runway.

9:05 a.m. - The space shuttle has been spotted in the skies over Kennedy. A pair of sonic booms will echo over the space center soon and Atlantis will make its final approach to the runway.

9 a.m. - Atlantis is being watched by long-range tracking cameras as it soars over Florida.

8:57 a.m. - Atlantis is over Florida. Less than 200 miles to go for Atlantis to reach the spaceport at Kennedy Space Center.

8:55 a.m. - Atlantis is over Central America and will skirt the coast of the Yucatan Peninsula before heading over the Gulf of Mexico on a heading that will bring it over the west coast of Florida in a few minutes. Commander Steve Frick will steer the shuttle onto an approach to land from the northeast on runway 15 at Kennedy Space Center.

8:50 a.m. - Atlantis and its crew of seven are surrounded by an envelope of supercharged plasma as they ride through thickening layers of the atmosphere. The heat shield is doing its job by insulating the shuttle from the heat and friction of the entry.

The sensation of gravity is also returning to the crew. For NASA astronaut and former International Space Station resident Dan Tani, this is the first weight he has felt in 120 days. He moved onto the station four months ago during the STS-120 mission.

8:40 a.m. – Atlantis is in entry interface, which means it is starting to encounter the fringes of the atmosphere. The friction with the thickening air slows Atlantis down before it starts its supersonic glide through the atmosphere on the way to Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis' altitude is about 400,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean. Landing remains scheduled for 9:07 a.m. EST.

The crew has activated the aerodynamic surfaces of Atlantis' wings and body flap and they are reported working and in good shape.

8:15 a.m. - Atlantis remains on schedule to land at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 9:07 a.m. EST. Atlantis will reach the upper layers of the atmosphere in less than 20 minutes. The flight path will take the shuttle over parts of Central America and the Caribbean Sea before crossing over the west coast of Florida and gliding over Central Florida. Atlantis will land from the northeast at the Shuttle Landing Facility, using runway 15.

8:02 a.m. - The de-orbit burn went as planned and space shuttle Atlantis has slowed so it will begin picking up traces of the atmosphere shortly. Commander Steve Frick will align Atlantis so its black-tiled belly will take the brunt of the entry forces.

7:59 a.m. - Mission Control reports that the deorbit burn began on schedule and the engines are firing to slow Atlantis from its orbital speed of about 17,500 mph. Atlantis was near the Philippines when the burn began.

7:48 a.m. - Commander Steve Frick is maneuvering space shuttle Atlantis so he can fire the two orbital maneuvering system engines to slow the spacecraft down in order to enter the atmosphere on its way to Kennedy Space Center. Atlantis will be turned so it is flying backwards and upside down in relation to the Earth. The engines will fire for two minutes and 40 seconds.

The morning at Kennedy Space Center brings a modest layer of thin clouds and very light winds. Atlantis is to make its final approach from the northeast.

The deorbit burn is set to begin at 7:59 a.m.

7:35 a.m. - The seven astronauts onboard Atlantis are seated for the return to Earth. Commander Steve Frick and Pilot Alan Poindexter are in the front two seats on the flight deck where they are surrounded by switches and readouts crucial for flying. Each also has a joystick they will use to fly Atlantis during the entry and glide to Earth.

Mission Specialists Leland Melvin and Rex Walheim are sitting behind the commander and pilot and both act as flight engineers. That means they help the two during the series of maneuvers and approach. They also call out key milestones during the process.

Mission Specialists Stanley Love, Dan Tani and European Space Agency astronaut Hans Schlegel are seated on the middeck, or lower level of the crew compartment. Because Tani is returning after four months in orbit, special considerations are made to help him adjust to the onset of gravity. Typically, space station residents lie down with their feet up during the return to Earth.

7:32 a.m. - Mission Control has given Atlantis and its crew of seven the "go" for de-orbit burn. That will put Atlantis on course to land at Kennedy at 9:07 a.m. EST.

7:30 a.m. - Good morning and welcome to nasa.gov's continuous coverage of the return of space shuttle Atlantis to NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Landing is scheduled for 9:07 a.m. EST. The weather is good this morning and forecasters have given the conditions a "go" to land on the first opportunity.

There are four landing opportunities for Atlantis today, two at Kennedy in Florida and two at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California.

The seven astronauts aboard Atlantis have closed the payload bay doors in preparation for coming home this morning and are waiting for Mission Control to give a "go" for the de-orbit burn, which will slow the shuttle down so it can enter the atmosphere and glide to the runway at Kennedy.

Mission Control is expected to radio a "go-no go" decision in about 10 minutes.




Live Coverage Team
Blog Updates: Steve Siceloff
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Photo Gallery: Tanya Nguyen
Video Production: Aly Lee
Video Capture/Editing: Chris Chamberland,
Michael Chambers and Gianni Woods